Cummings’ testimony of chaotic Downing Street ‘quite astonishing’ says First Minister
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
First Minister Mark Drakeford has described Dominic Cummings’ diatribe in a Commons’ committee yesterday as “quite astonishing”.
Mr Drakeford was visiting the newly opened Penderyn distillery in Llandudno, developed with £1.4m of Welsh Government cash, when he opened up about the extraordinary outburst at yesterday’s marathon joint session of the Commons Heath, and Science and Technology committees.
However the First Minister declined to speculate on the future of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying it was “something for the Conservative Party” to consider.
Mr Cummings made several explosive claims during his seven-hour evidence submission to the committee, accusing Health Secretary Matt Hancock of repeatedly lying and saying the PM wasn’t fit for office.
Asked for his thoughts on what happened Mr Drakeford said: “Firstly I do think a number of the things he said are quite astonishing, describing the chaotic scenes behind the team at Downing Street.
“You have to offer him some credibility as a witness because he was in the room when those discussions and those decisions were being taken.
“But he’s a partisan witness as well and we shouldn’t forget that. He’s a witness with an agenda and there will have been other people in those same rooms and party to those same decisions who will tell a different story.
“At the moment I think we should also make sure those people have their chance to tell their side of it as well.”
When asked for his thoughts about the future of Boris Johnson he said: “I do think there will be questions the Prime Minister will need to answer and no doubt what Mr Cummings said will be put to him in that way.
“I think the future of the Prime Minister is something for the Conservative Party.”
Mr Drakeford also opened up on trying to deal with the pandemic with the UK overshadowing decisions taken in Wales.
He said in the early days he felt it was “difficult (for Westminster) to understand there were different decisions even capable of being made”.
He also said the UK Government had honoured an agreement to supply vaccines “on a population share”.
However Wales got fewer tests than they envisaged. He said: “In the early days of testing there were tests we thought would come to Wales which ended up in the UK pot.
“We got our share of them but not as many as we would have had under the arrangement we thought. I do think that has improved and the vaccination programme has been better.”
The First Minister also revealed he has a weekly meeting with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and the other two First Ministers of the devolved nations to discuss Covid issues.
He called it a “one-off way of doing things and I’m glad of it”.
Yet he said there wasn’t a “proper machinery of Government”.
“What we need for the future is much, much more worked out, fully understood, reliable framework of making the UK work,” he said.