In Brief

Dominic Cummings evidence: learning lessons or political vendetta?

Former No. 10 aide’s appearance in front of MPs tipped to be ‘one of the most remarkable moments in modern political history’

Dominic Cummings has fired off a volley of scathing tweets ahead of his long-awaited appearance in front of MPs this week to give evidence on the government’s handling of coronavirus.

In what The Guardian describes as a “curtain-raiser” to the public grilling on Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s former right-hand man has spent the past week posting a thread of messages in which he dismisses as “bullshit” claims by ministers that herd immunity was not considered by Downing Street last year.

The ousted adviser points to government graphs from the start of the pandemic showing projections for a single prolonged but flattened wave of infections and deaths, with herd immunity described as “the optimal single-peak strategy”. He also suggests that if “competent” people had been in charge, the UK would “probably” have avoided the first national lockdown.

Cummings, “a figure who fascinates Westminster, has already hinted at damaging revelations” to come when he sits before the joint inquiry into lessons that can be learned from the UK’s handling of the Covid pandemic, says the BBC’s Mark D’Arcy.

Allies say that Cummings “wants revenge” and plans to “napalm” the prime minister with his revelations to the Health and Social Care and the Science and Technology committees, The Sunday Times reports. And he is expected to produce papers, text messages, WhatsApp threads and recordings to back up his claims.

As the clock ticks down to his tell-all appearance, speculation is rife about how much Cummings wants to help his country avoid mistakes in the future handling of national crises - and how much he simply wants to settle scores after being booted out of Downing Street last November.

The Sunday newspaper’s Tim Shipman says the ex-aide intends to “spin a wounding narrative” about his former boss’s “mistakes and shortcomings as a leader”.

“The scene that will unfold at 9.30am on Wednesday promises to be one of the most remarkable moments in modern political history, when the two men who have done most to shape British politics over the past five years collide head-on,” Shipman writes.

The Sun is predicting a political bloodbath, publishing a Brighty cartoon portraying Cummings as a Freddy Krueger-like character under the caption “Dommy’s revenge: a nightmare on Downing Street”.

Other commentators are hoping that “Dommy” can step beyond his villain role, however. Jane Merrick at the i news site hopes that the former No. 10 insider will “provide some answers to the questions bereaved families have been asking for more than a year”. If he does so, he “will have done something good”, she adds.

“If Mr Cummings’s contribution is designed to ensure that we are better prepared in future to deal with a pandemic then it is to be welcomed,” agrees The Telegraph.

But “if it is the latest chapter in a lengthy vendetta motivated by personal grievance, it needs to be seen in that context”, the paper concludes.

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