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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejects ex-aide's criticism over coronavirus response

WION Web Team
London, United KingdomUpdated: May 27, 2021, 05:02 PM IST

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (file photo). Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Cummings had accused Johnson of being recklessly insouciant in the early days of the crisis in February 2020, even volunteering to get infected with coronavirus live on television to show there was nothing to fear

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he disagreed with his former aide Dominic Cummings' claim that tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily because of the government's inaction on COVID-19.

Cummings had accused Johnson of being recklessly insouciant in the early days of the crisis in February 2020, even volunteering to get infected with coronavirus live on television to show there was nothing to fear.

But he said that even after nearly dying himself from the virus weeks later, the prime minister declined to learn from mistakes and ignored scientists' advice in September to introduce a second lockdown, leading to many more deaths over winter.

Asked if he agreed with Cummings' allegation, Johnson said: "No, I don't think so, but of course this has been an incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we've taken lightly."

"We've been governed by a determination to protect life to save life, to ensure that our NHS is not overwhelmed."

During a seven hour testimony to parliament Cummings made a series of allegations over Johnson's handling of the pandemic and said the prime minister had been unfit to lead the country.

Asked about that, Johnson said: "Some of the commentary I've heard doesn't bear any relation to reality and what people want us to get on with is delivering the road map, and trying cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most difficult periods that I think anybody can remember post war."

Speaking about current plans to remove lockdown restrictions on June 21 - a fourth and final step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown - Johnson said that cases of the virus were increasing, including those of a variant first identified in India.

"We take decisions as fast as we can but we have to weigh the data," he said.

"We're pretty satisfied that the stages, the steps, we've taken so far on the roadmap have been right ... I'm afraid we just have to wait a little bit longer to see what's happening post step three."