Dominic Cummings confirms that a dysfunctional duo were running Downing St

News Letter editorial of Thursday May 27 2021:

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:43 pm
News Letter editorial

The testimony of the former Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings at Westminster was damning yesterday.

Mr Cummings told the House of Commons health and science committees that Boris Johnson is “unfit for the job” of prime minister.

His evidence with regard to the UK’s handling of coronavirus reflected badly on both Mr Johnson and himself.

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Both are highly intelligent but maverick figures.

Since Mr Johnson was mayor of London, he has known that he is a very popular public figure, and his political demeanour has always been arrogant, even swaggering.

His boast last March that he would shake hands with people, after this had been shown to be a method of spreading Covid, was a case of cockiness tipping into recklessness.

It was one of a string of pronouncements that suggested a cavalier attitude to a pandemic that, weeks later, would almost kill Mr Johnson.

The Downing Street response to Covid will one day be examined in a public inquiry, but there is little doubt that the UK was one of the worse performing European countries, for reasons that are not as yet widely agreed.

At the top of government sat a dysfunctional duo. Mr Johnson had met his match in Mr Cummings, who is a brilliant organiser and campaigner and thinker. His belief in overthrowing systems of governance was not of itself an unreasonable one, given the huge inefficiencies of complacent bureaucracies.

The problem was that it was never clear who or what would be the next casualty, as Northern Ireland found.

Even if Mr Cummings never said, as claimed, that he hoped NI would disappear into the Irish Sea, we do know for sure that Mr Johnson came to Belfast to give a pledge to the DUP about never accepting an Irish Sea border but did just that a year later as soon as he had the keys to Downing Street.

Mr Cummings’ evidence yesterday should be treated with caution, because he has a grudge.

Yet much of it rings true.

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Alistair Bushe