LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not ready to impose lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 to save the elderly and has denied the National Health Service would be overwhelmed, his former senior adviser said in an interview that aired on Monday.
In his first TV interview since quitting his job last year, excerpts of which were released on Monday, Dominic Cummings said Johnson did not want to impose a second lockdown in the fall of last year because ” the people who die are essentially all over 80 ”.
Cummings also claimed Johnson wanted to meet Queen Elizabeth, 95, despite signs the virus was spreading in his office at the start of the pandemic and when the public was urged to avoid unnecessary contact, especially with the elderly. .
The policy adviser, who has accused the government of being responsible for thousands of preventable deaths from COVID-19, shared a series of messages from October that are said to be from Johnson to his aides. Read more
In a post, Cummings said Johnson joked that the elderly can “get COVID and live longer” because most of the people who have died are past the average age of life expectancy.
Cummings alleges Johnson texted him, ‘And I don’t buy all that overwhelmed NHS (National Health Service) stuff anymore. Folks, I think we might need to recalibrate. “
Reuters could not independently verify whether the messages were genuine.
A spokesperson for Johnson said the Prime Minister had taken “the steps necessary to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice”.
Britain’s opposition Labor Party said Cummings’ revelations reinforced the case for a public inquiry and were “further proof that the Prime Minister has repeatedly made the wrong calls to the detriment of public health” .
Cummings told the BBC Johnson told officials he should never have accepted the first lockdown and must convince him not to risk meeting the Queen.
“I said, what are you doing, and he said, I’m going to see the queen and I said, what the hell are you talking about, of course you can’t go see the queen” , Cummings said. Johnson. “And he said he just hadn’t thought about it. “
Although he has questioned Johnson’s suitability for his role as prime minister and blasted the government’s fight against COVID-19, Cummings’ critics have yet to seriously cloud the British leader’s ratings in the polls. ‘opinion. The full interview will air on Tuesday.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; edited by Richard Pullin
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