Dominic Cummings branded Boris Johnson “exhausting” and in a foul-mouthed tirade said the cabinet was “useless f***pigs” in explosive WhatsApp messages revealed today at the Covid-19 inquiry.
In a pivotal day, Mr Johnson’s former communications chief Lee Cain gave evidence, followed by Mr Cummings, the former prime minister’s chief of staff during the pandemic.
Mr Cummings apologised to the inquiry for the “appalling” language he used in messages but said that he was reflecting “a widespread view” about the incompetence shown by ministers who were “dealing with this crisis extremely badly”.
The messages showed the disdain he held for his former boss Mr Johnson, as it was revealed Mr Cummings had to sit with him for “two hours just to stop him saying stupid s***”.
Mr Cummings coarse language was not limited to politicians as he denied being a misogynist after messages showed he called former top civil servant Helen MacNamara a “c***”.
Bearing in mind the importance of the inquiry, though with apologies to readers of a sensitive disposition, here is a guide to Cummings Covid rants, detailing who he was swearing about and why.
‘Useless f***pigs, c**** and morons’
In WhatsApp messages and emails revealed at the inquiry, the former chief of staff called ministers a variety of the insults above. Mr Cummings said the language he used actually “understated” the competence of cabinet ministers and said working with the government was a “nightmare” during the pandemic.
While Mr Cain was giving evidence on Tuesday morning, he was shown a WhatsApp message sent by Mr Cummings to the former prime minister. They read: “We got big problems coming, Cabinet Office is terrifyingly s***, no plans, totally behind pace.”
The former head of communications in Downing Street said he agreed but would “not quite use that language”.
‘C*** in charge of NHS’
Mr Cummings was scathing about the performance of former health secretary Matt Hancock and in a WhatsApp to Boris Johnson urged him to sack the cabinet minister. He said that Mr Hancock was a “proven liar” and urged Mr Johnson to remove the “c*** in charge of the NHS”.
A number of messages sent by Mr Cummings paint a less than flattering picture of former prime minister Mr Johnson.
In a message sent to Mr Cain, Mr Cummings said he was sat in a meeting for two hours to try and prevent Mr Johnson saying stupid s***.” Mr Cain replied: “I’m exhausted with him.”
‘Jaws mode w***’
Mr Cummings wrote in a message to Mr Cain on March 19 2020, days before the first lockdown that, Mr Johnson was “melting down” in a meeting and “back to Jaws mode w***”.
Explaining the Jaws reference, Mr Cain told the inquiry that Mr Johnson would refer to the mayor from the Steven Spielberg film “who wanted to keep the beaches open”.
“I think he had a routine from previous in his career where he would use that as a joke from one of his after-dinner speeches,” he said. “The mayor was right all along to keep the beaches open because it would have been a long-term harm to the community - so it’s a sort of sub-reference to that.”
‘I’ve literally said same thing 10 f****** times’
In the same message to Mr Cain, Mr Cummings showed his frustration in trying to explain things to Mr Johnson and said: “I’ve literally said same thing 10 f****** times and he still won’t absorb it. I’m exhausted just talking to him and stopping the trolley.”
‘While dodging stilettos from that c***’
Mr Cummings denied to the inquiry he ever acted with “offence and misogyny” while at No 10 after he was shown a series of messages in which he used what he called “appalling” language against former top mandarin Helen MacNamara. Lead counsel Hugo Keith KC read out a message in which Mr Cummings referred to Ms MacNamara, he said: “We cannot keep dealing with this horrific meltdown of the British state while dodging stilettos from that c***.”
‘Know nothing on comms’
Mr Cummings was similarly uncomplimentary about Mr Hancock’s grasp of Covid communications as the pandemic hit the UK.
In a message to Mr Johnson on February 28 2020, he said: “Hancock is a know-nothing on comms and he’s totally failed viz the corona comms team such that I am having to convene meetings to sort shit out this afternoon.”