Johnson's Covid policy: insider reveals chaos

A "catastrophic failure" of leadership at the start of the pandemic: this is the accusation Dominic Cummings, the prime minister's key advisor at the time, has levelled at the British government. He says Boris Johnson did not take the virus seriously, that there was no plan, and that swifter action could have saved tens of thousands of lives. For commentators, the House of Commons hearing provides bitter insights.

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Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Cummings out for revenge

Cummings, who was fired by Johnson last autumn, will stop at nothing to get revenge, the Wiener Zeitung speculates:

“The most brutal and direct criticism reliably comes from former allies and partners - this is as true for politics as it is for private matters. ... To boost his credibility as a key witness against Johnson, Cummings did not even exclude himself. He, too, had failed and made mistakes, he admitted. ... But it should be noted: some people only apologise for their own mistakes or misdeeds when this apology shows others in an even worse light.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Deadly, deliberate chaos

Even if Cummings has his own motives for the criticism, his revelations are proof of Johnson's incompetence, The Guardian points out:

“Boris Johnson's character resurfaced as the cause of confusion, delay and, by extension, unnecessary death. Mr Cummings reports that the prime minister likes 'chaos' as a mode of government because it forces others to await his arbitration, thereby bolstering his power. That is consistent with other accounts of Mr Johnson's modus operandi: maintaining a deliberately weak cabinet, contradicting himself, making false public statements, making policy commitments one day and U-turning the next. ... That would be problematic under normal circumstances. During a pandemic, it has proved lethal.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Parallels with Sweden

Dagens Nyheter notes a sense of déjà vu:

“Sweden also made serious mistakes in the spring of 2020, and the parallels with the UK are striking. The idea that it was prepared, with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, was pure wishful thinking. Measures were taken too late or not at all. The high rapid spread of the infection in society meant that older people were not protected, as the [Swedish] Coronavirus Commission found. Britain was not a role model. Neither was Sweden. The vaccine will be the salvation of both countries.”