<p>Dominic Cummings</p>

Dominic Cummings

Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Dominic Cummings has laid into the prime minister once again over his handling of coronavirus.

Speaking in a wide-ranging BBC interview which will air tonight, Boris Johnson’s former aide made a number of claims about Johnson’s handling of the pandemic, including alleging that the Prime Minister was blasé about people over 80 dying from Covid and that he didn’t believe the NHS was as overwhelmed by cases, as it reported.

Johnson’s attitude was a “weird mix of... partly ‘it’s all nonsense and lockdowns don’t work anyway’ and partly ‘well this is terrible but the people who are dying are essentially all over 80 and we can’t kill the economy just because of people dying over 80’”, Cummings said.

He added that “many” people had heard the PM make these claims and that Johnson was “putting his own political interests ahead of people’s lives”.

He repeated his calls for a public inquiry to scrutinise the government’s record during the pandemic.

It comes amid a sustained onslaught on the PM by Cummings. After giving evidence at a parliamentary committee about the crisis, the former aide has since favoured posting cryptic tweets and posting blogs behind paywalls to reveal his ill-feeling towards the government. This is his first media interview during his political career.

Cummings said that he, UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty had pushed for tougher restrictions from mid-September last year when cases began to rise again but Johnson refused. Sir Patrick and Professor Whitty declined to comment to the BBC.

Cummings also shared a series of messages from 15 October 2020, weeks before the second national lockdown, that appear to be from Johnson to aides.

“I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent ) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this nhs overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate,” they read.

“There are max 3 m in this country aged over 80.

“It shows we don’t go for nation wide lockdown.”

In another revelation reported by the BBC ahead of the interview, Cummings said he discussed ousting Johnson within days of the Conservatives winning the December 2019 election. Describing the discussions, he said: “He [the prime minister] doesn’t have a plan, he doesn’t know how to be prime minister and we only got him in there because we had to solve a certain problem not because he was the right person to be running the country.”

Mr Cummings also alleged the PM’s now wife Carrie Johnson had tried to influence government appointments.

Cummings also said that Johnson wanted to continue having weekly meetings with the Queen last Match and that he had had to persuade him not to as she could have died if she had caught Covid. Downing Street have denied this.

He also defended driving to Durham during the first national lockdown and repeated his claim that there were security reasons as to why he felt compelled to do so.

Responding to Cummings’ claims, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the prime minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice.

“The government he leads has delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the furlough scheme and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.

“The government is entirely focused on emerging cautiously from the pandemic and building back better.”

The interview airs tonight at 7pm. It looks set to be pretty explosive.

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