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Kamis, 27 Mei 2021

Boris Johnson rejects Dominic Cummings' claims he is unfit to be PM - ABC News

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected explosive claims made by his former top adviser that his government mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, costing thousands of lives.

On Wednesday Dominic Cummings sent shockwaves through Downing Street after telling a parliamentary inquiry his former boss was "unfit" to be prime minister and repeatedly delayed major decisions during key moments.

The UK currently has the fifth-highest death toll in the world, and Mr Cummings said the government's poor handling of the crisis led to the toll being far higher than it should have been.

When asked if thousands had died unnecessarily , Mr Johnson said: "No I don't think so."

"But of course, this has been an incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we've taken lightly.

Cummings came for the king

"And you've got to recognise, and I hope people do understand this, that when you go into a lockdown, it's a very, very painful, traumatic thing for people — for people's mental health, their lives and their livelihoods."

The British government had been criticised for initially enforcing a lockdown too late in March 2020 as COVID-19 infections spiralled out of control, and repeating the same mistake later in the year in October, against the advice of government scientists.

Mr Johnson said he and his government had been "governed by a determination to protect life" at every stage of the pandemic, and "followed, to the best we can, the data and the guidance that we've had".

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Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 37 seconds
Dominic Cummings accuses Boris Johnson of failing the UK public.

The Prime Minister also dismissed the notion he was "unfit" to be leader of the country.

"I think that it's important for us to focus on what really matters to the people of this country," Mr Johnson said.

"And I think, if I may say so, that some of the commentary I've heard doesn't bear any relation to reality, and what people want us to get on with is delivering the roadmap and trying, cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most difficult periods I think anybody can remember."

Hancock denies lying claims

While Mr Cummings levelled a series of claims at Mr Johnson — including saying the PM wanted to be injected with the virus on live television to show it was not dangerous — the greatest venom was saved for Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who Mr Cummings said should have been fired for lying during government meetings.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings left his role at Downing Street in November 2020.(

AP: Alberto Pezzali

)

"I think that [Hancock] should have been fired for at least 15, 20 things including lying to everybody on multiple occasions, in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room, and publicly," Mr Cummings said.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Hancock said the allegations were "not true".

"These allegations that were put yesterday … are serious allegations, and I welcome the opportunity to come to the House to put formally on the record that these unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true, and that I've been straight with people in public and in private throughout.

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 12 seconds
Former aide to Boris Johnson slams UK's response to COVID-19

"Every day since I began working on the response to this pandemic last January, I've got up each morning and asked 'what must I do to protect life?'.

"That is the job of a health secretary in a pandemic."

Indian variant threatens easing of restrictions

Meanwhile the final unlocking of coronavirus restrictions in England could be delayed due to the spread of the Indian variant of the virus in some parts of the country.

Prominent epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told the BBC there were concerns over the increased transmissibility of the Indian variant, with data showing it was easier to catch that the other dominant variant from Kent in England.

"The key issue as to whether we can go forward is: will the surge caused by the Indian variant... be more than has been already planned into the relaxation measures?"

England had planned to ditch most coronavirus restrictions by June 21, but Mr Johnson said the country now "may need to wait".

"I don't see anything currently in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the roadmap, but we may need to wait," Mr Johnson said.

Mr Hancock told Parliament that a formal assessment would be made on June 14 as to whether restrictions could be lifted on June 21.

"We will only do that if it's safe," he told Parliament.

Currently people are restricted to meeting a maximum of six people or two separate households indoors, and venues such as nightclubs remain closed.

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2021-05-27 17:04:56Z
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