Covid inquiry WhatsApp message said ‘the real person in charge is Carrie’
The UK Government was described by the head of the civil service as looking like a “terrible, tragic joke”, while Boris Johnson’s now-wife was “the real person in charge”, in WhatsApp messages shown at the Covid inquiry.
Simon Case, who was appointed in September 2020 having been permanent secretary in Number 10 before then, wrote that he was “not sure I can cope” amid apparent frustration at how the pandemic was being handled in Government.
The messages were briefly flashed up on screen during Friday’s hearing of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry in London, as a letter to the inquiry from then-PM Mr Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings was shown and discussed.
The hearing is part of module two which focuses on core UK decision-making and political governance.
The letter contained an email dated July 13, 2020 which Mr Cummings said was “on the problems of the No 10/CabOff (Cabinet Office) set up that is relevant to the inquiry”.
Mr Cummings said it was copied to the PM “but he never engaged seriously”.
The WhatsApp messages appeared on screen above the email and are understood to have been from October 14, 2020.
Mr Case wrote: “Am not sure I can cope with today.
“Might just go home. Matt just called, having spoken to PM. According to Matt (so aim off, obvs), PM has asked Matt to work up regional circuit breakers for the North (as per Northern Ireland) today – and to bring recommendations. I am going to scream…”
Lee Cain, who was Mr Johnson’s director of communications until November 2020, replied: “Wtf are we talking about.”
Mr Case, in an apparent reference to Mr Johnson’s then-partner and now wife, Carrie Johnson, replied: “Whatever Carrie cares about, I guess.”
Case wrote: “I was always told that Dom (Dominic Cummings) was the secret PM. How wrong they are. I look forward to telling select cttee tomorrow – ‘oh, f*** no, don’t worry about Dom, the real person in charge is Carrie’.”
Further down the messages, Mr Case wrote: “This gov’t doesn’t have the credibility needed to be imposing stuff within only days of deciding not too (sic). We look like a terrible, tragic joke. If we were going hard, that decision was needed weeks ago. I cannot cope with this.”
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