Dilyn the Welsh dog among issues distracting No 10 from tackling Covid, says Cummings
Dilyn the Welsh dog was among issues in March of last year distracting Number 10 Downing Street from focusing fully on its response to Covid-19, according to a new blogpost by Dominic Cummings.
The blog by the former senior aide includes an alleged WhatsApp exchange with Boris Johnson on the subject of Matt Hancock, in which the Prime Minister calls the Health Secretary “Totally f****** hopeless”.
It also includes the claim that there were too many other stories competing for No 10’s attention on March 12, a few days before the herd immunity plan was jettisoned and the first UK-wide lockdown announced.
As well as “chickenpox parties” and “Trump wanting us to bomb the Middle East,” “Dilyn’s bad PR” was also attracting attention, Dominic Cummings wrote.
The day before a news article had appeared in the Times newspaper suggesting that Dilyn, who was rescued by Friends of Animals Wales, was due to be rehomed before the Prime Minister’s then-girlfriend, now wife Carrie Symonds gave birth to their son.
This is the second time Dominic Cummings has pinpointed Dilyn as an issue that distracted the heart of the UK Government during March of 2020.
During his evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee last month he suggested that the story had been drawing attention away from Covid-19.
“Then, to add to that day—it sounds so surreal it couldn’t possibly be true—The Times had run a huge story about the Prime Minister and his girlfriend and their dog, and the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story and demanding that the press office dealt with that,” he said.
“At the end of all that, at roughly 9 o’clock that night, I then sat down with Ben Warner and Mark Warner. That is, essentially, when they kind of hit the total panic button with me. They said, ‘We are looking at all this data; we are looking at all these graphs. We are heading for total and utter catastrophe. We need to have plan B.’ Ben then went off and spoke to Patrick Vallance about that on Friday the 13th.”
The most controversial part of Dominic Cummings’ blog relates to March 27 last year, when he highlighted the US’s ramping up of testing capacity and criticised Hancock for saying he was “sceptical” about meeting a target.
The Prime Minister purportedly responded: “Totally f****** hopeless.”
Cummings also published another private message about the struggles to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients. “It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless,” a contact appearing to be Johnson replied on March 27.
In another message, on April 27 last year, the Prime Minister appeared to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) “a disaster” and alluded to diverting some responsibilities to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
“I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on,” Johnson apparently added.
In July of last year it was revealed that Wales gave England more than 10 million items of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic after they faced “significant challenges in organising themselves”.