Sometimes political bombshells emerge from the least likely locations. In the case of Dominic Cummings’ dramatic burst of tweets this morning, they were penned as he sat in the waiting room for his first Covid jab.
If anyone doubted that there is a state of war between the maverick former aide and the Prime Minister, then the thread of 26 (and counting) tweets he has posted over the last 24 hours make it abundantly clear. When Dom tweets about The Manhattan Project, you can be sure he believes there is a thermonuclear device under the PM’s sofa.
His most eye-popping announcement was that he is about to reveal the contents of what he believes is “a crucial historic document” relating to the first lockdown in early 2020. This will be disclosed to the Commons Health and Science select committees next week, when he gives evidence. Cummings mooted the idea of a charity auction, but that was just the showman in him creating some pyrotechnics to boost expectations of a real daisycutter set of leaks.
The PM’s official spokesman feigned a lack of interest in what Cummings may have to say or reveal, but the tight-lipped frustration among other No 10 sources reveals how deeply Dom has got under their skin.
But how damaging can these revelations be? The charge that Boris Johnson was too slow to lockdown in February 2020 and that he ignored some scientists is well known and, as they say in SW1, “priced in”. It did not stop the Tories making gains in the local elections.
The allegation that Johnson said something like he would rather have “bodies pile high” than lockdown a second time has also been well aired – and denied. If a tape exists, however, that would be truly explosive.
Cummings’s claim that Sir Patrick Vallance and others were deeply frustrated and wanted to strip vaccine policy from Matt Hancock’s Health department is intriguing. But for lethality it would probably require Sir Patrick himself to come out and say it was a catastrophic blunder rather than just another Whitehall turf war.
Here’s the nub: As Cummings tweeted, any inquiry into the Covid tragedy will probably focus on “surface errors” rather than what he calls “the deep institutional wiring of the parties/civil service program destructive behaviour”. No, I don’t really know what that means either.
He may be able to explain it to MPs and the public when he gives evidence next week. But he may not, in which case the big Cummings bombshell could turn out to be a damp squib after all.