Dominic Cummings has claimed the second most powerful official in the country at the start of the pandemic believed the UK would be “absolutely fucked” by Covid.
Giving evidence to MPs on Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s former top adviser said Helen MacNamara, the deputy cabinet secretary in March 2020, had told him there was “no plan”.
“I think we are absolutely fucked,” Cummings said MacNamara told him on March 13. “I think this country is heading for a disaster. I think we are going to kill thousands of people.”
Speaking to the Commons health and science committees, Cummings said the mood in Downing Street on March 14 was “like a scene from Independence Day” as the prime minister was warned “the aliens are coming”.
Cummings said the government had fallen “disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect”.
“When the public needed us most the government failed,” he added.
Cummings said it was “obvious” in retrospect that the UK should have locked down in the first week of March at the latest, rather than on March 23.
“I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that,” Cummings said.
He added government was not operating on a “war footing” in February 2020 as the global crisis mounted and “lots of key people were literally skiing in the middle of February”.
The former No. 10 adviser also suggested Johnson did not chair early meetings of the government’s emergency Cobra committee because he did not consider the virus to be serious.
He said the prime minister thought the issue was like “swine flu” and did not need to cause concern.