DOMINIC CUMMINGS today claimed Boris Johnson DID say he would rather "let the bodies pile high" than have a third national lockdown.
At an explosive appearance before MPs he insisted he heard the PM make the incendiary comment in his No10 study last October.
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Mr Johnson has previously dismissed the accusation as "total rubbish" – but his former top aide this afternoon said the shocking reports were true.
The bombshell allegation was among a number of dynamite attacks unleashed by Mr Cummings at the Commons committee today.
On a dramatic day in Westminster the vengeful ex-adviser claimed:
- Boris was warned 'we're absolutely f***ed' by a lack of pandemic preparedness in scenes likened to 'Independence Day'
- The PM and other top officials were on holiday in February and missed key pandemic prep meetings
- The PM said Covid was just a "scare story" in February and thought it was "just the new swine flu"
- Cummings claimed Boris was going to get Chris Whitty to inject him live on telly with Covid to show it was "nothing to be scared of"
- No10 was distracted in the week of March 12 as Donald Trump wanted the UK to help with a bombing campaign – and Carrie wanted the press office to deal with a story about their dog, Dilyn
- Herd immunity WAS a policy until Friday 13 March when it was abandoned, he said
- It was a "catastrophic mistake" not to make data public because there wasn't scrutiny of the scientists decisions
- He accused ministers of acting too slowly as they weren't prepared and had no plans
- 'Groupthink' led to delays in lockdown, but he said he "bitterly regrets" not pushing it from the first week of March
- Matt Hancock should have been fired several times for "lying" to officials and obsessing over his "stupid" testing target
- He sensationally claimed Mr Hancock had reassured them that people were being tested in hospitals before being sent back into care homes but "that hadn't happened"
Quizzed about the PM's alleged remarks, Mr Cummings said: "The version that the BBC reported was accurate.
"I heard that in the PM's study. That was not in September, that was after he finally made the decision to lockdown on the 31 October."
The PM is said to have thrown out the controversial comments after plunging the UK into the second November lockdown.
He later did impose a third lockdown in January – after Mr Cummings left Downing Street in December following a power struggle.
Today's marathon eight-hour session saw Mr Johnson's scorned ex-aide take aim at his old boss and one-time Government colleagues.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock bore the brunt of the brutal attacks, with Mr Cummings claiming the PM considered firing him.
As his former right-hand man delivered a damning verdict of the Government's crisis handling,Mr Johnson apologised for the UK's "suffering" at a humbling PMQs.
But he also slapped down claims he'd failed the nation and should have locked down earlier, risking thousands of lives.
The PM told MPs: "I take full responsibility for everything that has happened. I am truly sorry for the suffering the people of this country experiences.
"But the government acted throughout with the intention to save lives, protect the NHS and in accordance with the best scientific advice."
The PM said the pandemic was "one of the most difficult things this country's had to do for a very long time" and said the decision to go into lockdown was "traumatic" for the country and "appallingly difficult to deal with at every stage".
He hit back at allegations he didn't do enough during the crucial days in February and March and said: "At every stage I've tried to minimise loss of life to save lives, protect the NHS and we have followed the best scientific advice."
Mr Cummings opened today's session of the joint health and science committee with an apology to families who have lost loved ones.
He said: "When the public needed us most, the government failed."
The trademark scruffy PM's former right-hand man swept into Parliament with an open-neck shirt, jeans and a black baseball cap this morning.
Laying bare how unprepared the Government was to fight a pandemic, Mr Cummings likened the situation in early last year to an alien invasion.
He said: "Imagine this is like a scene from Independence Day… your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan – that is what the scene was like."
Mr Cummings accused the PM of not even having a plan "to bury the bodies" and it was "crackers" Boris ended up as PM as he wasn't fit for the job.
The PM made "some very bad mis-judgements and got some very serious things wrong", he blasted.
And Mr Cummings told how Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill had reportedly said to the PM how he could go live on telly to tell people to have "chicken pox parties" to spread the virus – in order to make more people immune.
At multiple points in the session Mr Cummings vented his frustration that No10 was not laser-focused on defeating Covid.
He said Downing Street was not on a war footing fast enough and "lots of key people were skiing in the middle of February".
And ministers didn't realise the huge holes in their planning until it was too late, he claimed, and called the Cabinet office "terrifyingly s**t".
He even claimed key meetings on Covid were derailed as No10 had to deal with Donald Trump's demands to bomb Iraq – and a story about Carrie Symonds' dog – on the same day.
He said Mr Hancock should have been fired "about 20 times" for "lying to everybody on multiple occasions" – and he told the PM to get rid of him.
There was no plan for furlough or for shielding until the very last minute, he said, but dodged questions on whether ministers should face corporate manslaughter charges.
He raged: "There's no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect.
"I think that the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people.
"Hancock told us in the cabinet that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes. What the hell happened?"
He even claimed the PM wanted to fire him last April – something No10 did not deny this afternoon.
But Downing Street said the PM had full confidence in the Health Secretary.
SORRY FOR BARNARD CASTLE
Finally Mr Cummings said he was sorry for going to Durham when he had Covid with his wife and young child.
And he said he wished he'd never gone – but said it was for security reasons and his wife was worried to leave him alone.
"That whole episode was a major disaster for the government and Covid policy," he said.
"Arguably I should have resigned in March or May, and I should definitely have resigned in September…"
Speaking for the first time about how sick he was, he said even for weeks afterwards he could barely walk 50metres.
He said his trip to Barnard Castle to "test his eyesight" was true but called the whole trip a "terrible, terrible, terrible mistake that I am extremely sorry about".
The PM's former director of Comms told the PM not to pick a fight with footballer Marcus Rashford – but was ignored – Mr Cummings said.
Instead the PM had to back down and give in after pressure from the campaigner over free school meals.
HERD IMMUNITY 'WAS THE PLAN'
Mr Cummings insisted ministers were being dishonest when they said herd immunity and getting as many people immune as possible wasn't the Government's agenda.
He said: "Herd immunity was regarded as an unavoidable fact.
"That was the official plan. You can see it in the COBRA documents I've brought along.
"Hancock himself, and the chief scientist, and the chief medical officer, were all briefing senior journalists during the week of the ninth, saying, this is what the official plan is.
"I am completely baffled why No10 is trying to deny that."
Mr Cummings said the Government's original plan was for limited intervention, with the hope of achieving herd immunity.
But that was abandoned when it became clear the scale of the death toll that would result, around mid-March.
Others called the first plan as "mad" and questioned whether it would really work.
CUMMINGS PUSHES FOR LOCKDOWN
Mr Cummings read out texts he reportedly sent to the PM and key scientists on March 11 and 12, before the 13 'Plan B' came along, saying they needed to take action and start social distancing now – breaking with SAGE advisers.
He claimed that ministers and officials were delaying making official policy and telling Brits to 'stay at home' because "there hasn't been the planning and the preparation" in place.
"By the 11th it had already gone terribly wrong," he added.
The PM and other ministers thought the public wouldn't accept a lockdown and restrictions on every part of our lives, he said.
"Those two assumptions were completely central to to the Official Plan," he said. "And were both obviously completely wrong."
The PM still did not tell the nation to stay at home until March 23, days later.
On March 12 at 7.48am, Mr Cummings sent texts saying: "The Cabinet office is terrifyingly s**t, no plan, totally behind the pace… we must announce today, if you feel ill with a cold or flu, stay at home."
Around then it was estimated that 500,000 deaths could occur.
And the NHS would be smashed apart, he stressed.
Asked if he was eyeing a return, potentially in a Rishi Sunak administration, he said: "I think everyone from my wife to everybody in Westminster and Whitehall will agree that the less heard from me in the future the better."
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