UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to be infected with the coronavirus on live TV last year to show it’s nothing to be scared of, his former aide Dominic Cummings told members of Parliament on Wednesday.
Cummings appeared before a House of Commons committee, where he set out a series of potentially damaging claims about his former boss.
These included claims that Johnson wanted to be injected with the virus on live TV by one of his senior advisors.
“In February the PM regarded this as just a scare story,” Cummings told MPs.
“The view of lots of people was if the PM said it’s just like swine flu, don’t worry about it, I will get [chief medical officer] Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with it, that would not help.”
The prime minister ultimately did become infected with the virus relatively early in the pandemic, testing positive in late March 2020, and ended up in intensive care.
Cummings also apologized to the families of people who had died in the pandemic.
“The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisors like me, fell disastrously short,” Cummings said.
“When the country needed it most, the government failed it.”
He added he “would like to say to all the families of the people who died how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made.”
A report by the Daily Mail suggested that Cummings would also claim that Johnson:
Of Johnson’s overall performance during the pandemic, Cummings told MPs that: “Tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die.
Cummings was reportedly expected to say that Johnson as late as fall 2020 suggested “the big danger is not Kung-Flu but the harm caused in trying to stop it,” that he was “right all along and should not have been pushed into the first lockdown,” and that “the economic damage caused by lockdowns is more damaging than the loss of life caused by COVID.”
Downing Street believes that Cummings, who was ejected from office last year following an internal row over the influence of Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, is determined to seek revenge on Johnson.
His appearance before a joint committee of the House of Commons was expected to last almost four hours, and was said to be prepared with private internal messages setting out what he believes were the failures of Johnson’s administration to tackle the pandemic.