Dominic Cummings claims civil servants didn’t work weekends in lead up to Covid

Dominic Cummings accused of ‘revenge’ by Kuenssberg

Dominic Cummings sent texts to Boris Johnson describing the Cabinet Office as “terrifying s***” in the buildup to the first Covid lockdown.

The spurned right-hand adviser also claimed civil servants wanted to delay making Boris Johnson’s infamous “stay at home” address because they did not work weekends.

The revelatory text messages were published by the official Covid Inquiry this week, which will examine the UK’s response to, and impact of, the pandemic.

In messages to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings said Sir Mark Sedwill – the then head of the Civil Service – “hasn’t a scooby”.

He also demanded Boris Johnson begin chairing daily meetings in the Cabinet Room, rather than COBRA and banned devolved Governments including Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford from being included.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson’s lockdown decisions to be examined by Covid-19 inquiry

On the 12 March 2020 at 8am, Mr Cummings texted: “We got big problems coming.

“[Cabinet Office] is terrifyingly s—t, no plans, totally behind pace, me and Warners and lee/slacky are having to drive and direct,

“Mark [Sedwill] is out to lunch — hasn’t a scooby what’s going on nd his own officials know he doesn’t.

“We must announce TODAY — not next week — ‘if feel ill with cold/flu stay home’.

“Some [Cabinet Office] want delay cos haven’t done the work and don’t weekends.

“We must force the pace today. We are looking at 100-500 thousand deaths between optimistic / pessimistic scenarios.”

Three hours later he told Mr Johnson he needs to “chair daily meetings in the Cabinet room — not COBRA — on this from tomorrow. I’m going to tell the system this”.

He added that meetings were not to have the devolved authorities – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – on the “f***ing phone all the time”.

Mr Johnson’s witness statement to the inquiry said he often left Michael Gove to chair the four-nation COBRA meetings, partly because he did not want to provoke the SNP as a “target of nationalist ire”.

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It said: “I am afraid I was conscious that I tended to be a particular target of nationalist ire. Rather than provoking the SNP, I wanted to mollify and gain consent. I believed Michael would do a good job.”

The second phase of the Covid Inquiry began last week, though Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s appearances before the probe won’t take place until November.

It was reported the pair’s appearances were pushed back in order to avoid disrupting party conference season.

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