'F*** pigs, a dumpster fire & IT HAS TO STOP': the wildest quotes from UK Covid Inquiry with Dominic Cummings
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"F*** pigs, c**** and morons" are just some of the insults that have flown around the Covid Inquiry in the interrogations of Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain and Martin Reynolds.
The quizzing of several of Boris Johnson's former advisers has laid bare the acrimony and chaos going on inside Downing Street during the Covid pandemic. Access to the key players' WhatsApp messages has shown the amount of bad blood and colourful language used by Cummings, Johnson and others. They have also revealed how many members of staff viewed the Prime Minister as indecisive and unfit to govern.
So here are the most incendiary lines to come out of the last few days of the UK's Covid Inquiry.
Cabinet ministers were 'feral' and 'useless f*** pigs'
Dominic Cummings told Boris Johnson his Cabinet ministers were “useless f*** pigs” and criticised then-health secretary Matt Hancock as a “proven liar”.
Calling for a reshuffle, Johnson’s former chief adviser said in a WhatsApp message in August 2020: “At the moment the bubble thinks youve taken your eye off ball, you’re happy to have useless f******* in charge, and they think that a vast amount of the chaotic news on the front pages is coming from no10 when in fact it’s coming from the Cabinet who are feral – if you maintain your approach of last few months, your authority will be severely weakened and you will lose good people cos (sic) they dont want to be part of something that looks like mayhem.”
'Killing the patient to tackle the tumour'
Two aides, Cummings and Imran Shafi, said they think that notes show Johnson said we are "killing the patient to tackle the tumour" about being bringing in too many restrictions around Covid. The same notes from the meeting say Johnson said "why are we destroying everything for people who will die anyway soon?"
'Useless f*** pigs, morons, c****'
Cummings seemed to rather like referring to Cabinet Ministers as "f*** pigs". Hugo Keith KC, lead counsel to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, said “we’re going to have to coarsen our language somewhat” as he read out some of the terms used by Cummings in WhatsApp and email messages, including “useless f*******, morons, c****.”
Cummings said he apologised, that his language was "appalling", but that his “judgment of a lot of senior people was widespread”.
'Everyone called him a trolley'
Everyone in Downing Street called Boris Johnson a “trolley”, Dominic Cummings said. This apparently referred to the Prime Minister’s propensity to change direction or change his mind. In WhatsApp messages, Cain just sends a trolley emoji when responding to Johnson flip flopping over a decision.
Cummings said: “Some elements of the system, often the Cabinet Office would not like what had been agreed. And in the best Sir Humphrey Yes Minister style, they would wait for me and other people to not be around the prime minister and they would pop in to see the prime minister and say: ‘Dear Prime Minister, I think that this decision really wasn’t the best idea, very brave prime minister. Perhaps you should trolley on it’.”
'IT HAS TO STOP!'
This was part of a WhatsApp message from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to Cummings and head of communications Lee Cain about Boris Johnson's inability to make a decision. Case wrote: "I am at end of my tether. He [Johnson] changes strategic direction every day ... he cannot lead and we cannot support him in leading with this approach ... IT HAS TO STOP! Decide and set direction - deliver - explain. Gov't (sic) isn't actually that hard, but this guy is really making it impossible."
'Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people'
A remarkable series of notes from Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientist, has shown the apparent view that Boris Johnson had for elderly people dying from Covid. On of Vallance’s notes in December 2020 found that Johnson thought the Conservative Party “thinks the whole thing is pathetic and Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people – and I [Johnson] am not entirely sure I disagree with them.”
Another from August 2020 said that Johnson was “obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going”. Vallance described this as a “quite bonkers set of exchanges”.
'Cummings a total and utter liar'
Boris Johnson raged that Dominic Cummings was a “total and utter liar” after his lockdown trip to Barnard Castle became public. In messages shared with the Covid inquiry, dated 19 July 2021, Johnson said: “Cummings a total and utter liar. He never told me he had gone to Durham during lockdown. I only discovered when the stories started to come out about Barnard castle etc. I believed Mary Wakefield [Cummings' wife] when she wrote a piece in spec giving impression they had been in London the whole time.
“He later claimed that he had told me but that my brain was so fogged by Covid that I didn’t register. It’s not true, I would have noted it. He never told me. I then tried my very best to defend him.”
'Cabinet office was dumpster fire'
Cummings described the Cabinet Office as a "bomb site and a dumpster fire". He said: "We had a huge problem of quality control of documents going into meetings, and inconsistent data and inconsistent facts being read out. Many officials would come to me and say 'this is causing chaos, there has to be some formalised system to actually grip this', because the Cabinet Office was a dumpster fire."