The key moments and reactions from Dominic Cummings’ grilling by MPs

Conrad Duncan@theconradduncan
Wednesday 17 March 2021 14:47
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Dominic Cummings has made his first public appearance since quitting as Boris Johnson’s chief adviser last year in a committee session with MPs on the new “high-risk” scientific research agency that he championed during his time at Downing Street.

The controversial political strategist appeared before the Commons Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday to discuss the project and his time working with the prime minister.

You can find some of the key moments from the session below:

PM made ‘deal’ with Cummings on No 10 role

Cummings told the Committee that he promised to help Johnson “sort out the huge Brexit nightmare” in a private meeting in the prime minister’s living room in 2019.

He added that he took the job in Downing Street with an assurance that a number of non-negotiable conditions would be met.

“I said ‘Yes, if first of all you are deadly serious about actually getting Brexit done and avoiding a second referendum’,” Cummings said.

“‘Secondly, double the science budget, third create some Arpa-like entity and fourth support me in trying to change how Whitehall works because it’s a disaster zone’ and he [Johnson] said ‘Deal."”

Cummings hits out at Department of Health over vaccine procurement

In what appeared to be an indirect attack on health secretary Matt Hancock, Cummings told MPs that the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme had only been successful because it was taken out of the control of the Department of Health and Social Care.

“It is not coincidental that we had to take it out of the Department of Health. We had to have it authorised very directly by the prime minister,” the former chief adviser said.

“In spring 2020 you had a situation where the Department of Health was just a smoking ruin in terms of procurement and PPE and all of that. You had serious problems with the funding bureaucracy for therapeutics.”

Cummings defends pay-rise and claims he took earlier cut

The former chief adviser also defended his 40 per cent pay-rise which was revealed last year – arguing that he actually took a salary cut when he began working at Downing Street.

“The media reports about me getting a pay rise after Covid are wrong,” Cummings told Labour MP Dawn Butler.

He argued that he asked to be paid £100,000 when he first arrived at No 10 (less than the usual £140,000 for his position) but when he was formally rehired on the day after the 2019 general election, his salary reverted to the £140,000 pay grade.

Although, as The Mirror’s Mikey Smith points out, it is weird that the government didn’t give this explanation when the pay increase was revealed to much controversy last year:

Some journalists noted that the failures of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic had not made Cummings more humble about his abilities as a strategist:

While others noted that the former adviser left the session on a cliffhanger, telling MPs that he would be happy to answer more questions in the future about stories on him in the media…

Meanwhile, some users simply took the session as an opportunity to work on their Photoshop skills after Cummings produced a chart to illustrate one of his points:

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