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As temperatures soar, the heat rises for a PM in splendid isolation

Chequers, the country house of the prime minister of the United Kingdom, near Wendover in Buckinghamshire, where a pinged Boris Johnson isolates through the heat wave, Image from @paulhutcheon/Twitter

For the first time in its 167 year history, the Met Office issued an “amber extreme heat warning” for parts of the UK with the sweltering temperatures set to peak on Thursday at over 33C.

The country bakes but Boris Johnson may be feeling the heat more than most after a truly surreal turn of events was capped by last night’s BBC Two broadcast of Laura Kuenssberg’s hour long interview with Dominic Cummings.

The prime minister’s former chief advisor turned would-be-nemesis told the BBC’s political editor that even Johnson himself agrees it is “ludicrous” that he of all people resides at Number 10.

What if you give coronavirus to the Queen?

Johnson, Cummings says, is a careering shopping trolley, “unusually self-aware” for a politician and yet also a puppet, easily manipulated, and reckless enough to have potentially given Covid to the Queen after his own government spooked elderly people into early isolation in March last year.

Johnson said he wanted to go and see the Queen, and when Cummings asked, “What do you think you’re doing, going to see the Queen? Johnson replied: “It’s what I do every Wednesday, sod this, I’m going to see her.”

People in Downing Street were already isolating and the virus was present in the office, yet Cummings had to ask Johnson: “What if you give coronavirus to the Queen? What if she dies?

The advisor told the prime minister: “You can’t do that. You can’t risk that, it’s completely insane.

“He obviously hadn’t thought it through. He said, ‘yeah, holy shit, I can’t go.’”

Downing Street denies this, as Kuenssberg pointed out, but adding a further twist was Monday’s release of more details about the prime minister’s Whatsapp messages, by Cummings, and seen by Kuenssberg, that reveal the PM’s callous disregard for people aged in their 80s. An erroneous belief that delayed autumn’s lockdown, costing thousands more people their lives.

PM delayed lockdown because Starmer suggested it

Johnson put his political ambitions above the welfare of the people of the country, said Cummings, in the course of an extraordinary interview, for so many reasons, not least the alarming picture painted about who and how is running the country.

Other devastating claims included the prime minister of the UK calling the Telegraph newspaper “his boss”, and Johnson’s petty opposition to the autumn lockdown. All because, Cummings said, Sir Keir Starmer was calling for a circuit breaker. Johnson did not want to be seen as taking advice from a man he was trying to label (Trump-like), as Captain Hindsight. Not while his fiancée fought with his chief advisor about who would get to pull the prime minister’s strings. Carrie Symonds-now-Johnson won out, with clowns duly appointed across Downing Street, said Cummings.

He has called on MPs to demand an immediate inquiry into the handling of the pandemic which began with a basic plan of herd immunity. Johnson initially dismissed coronavirus as another swine flu, ignoring warnings and failing to grasp the situation, said Cummings, evidenced by his proposed trip to the palace. It wasn’t until a scientist took a new look at the data and concluded 500,000 deaths could result if coronavirus was let rip that the situation was re-evaluated, resulting in the first lockdown.

But now, some 16 months later, herd immunity is back as the government’s apparent policy with the prime minister going “all-in” on the vaccine silver bullet. It is a huge gamble given the large numbers of partially or not-at-all vaccinated people in all age groups, as well as the fact that no vaccine is 100% effective (remembering 1% of 68 million is 680,000). The impact the decision has had on vulnerable and at risk people with underlying conditions is devastating.

No other country has opened-up when infections and cases are surging. Which is why the world is looking on in fascination and fear at the English experiment, its warnings having gone unheeded at Number 10.

The pinged PM’s splendid isolation

Or indeed, at Chequers, the 1,000 acre “lavish estate, complete with its indoor heated swimming pool in the Orangery”, where the pinged prime minister has been forced to self isolate. He may have missed his own “Freedom Day”, but at least there, in bucolic Buckinghamshire, Johnson was far enough away from Westminster not to hear anti-vaccine protestors demanding his arrest on Freedom Day.

By mid afternoon, with temperatures topping 30C, 11 protestors had been arrested for a variety of offences following clashes around Parliament Square and Westminster Underground station that saw bottles thrown at police and scuffles breaking out. Anti-vaxxers, anti-vaccine-passporters and a whole range of other activists and protestors concerned about freedoms and losing liberties were further alarmed by Monday’s announcement that, from the end of September, anyone wanting to go clubbing will have to show a vaccine passport.

Just a few months ago, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi categorically ruled out introducing vaccine passports because in the UK a vaccine is not mandatory, telling the Andrew Marr show: “That’s not how we do things. We do them by consent.”

On so-called Freedom Day, the prime minister failed to rule out people having to present a passport to get a pint in a pub in the future.

Covid mentioned on 154,000 death certificates

The latest figures released today (Tuesday) show 46,558 new Covid cases in the last 24 hour period with another 96 deaths of people reported within 28 days of a positive test – the highest toll since March 24 and virtually double the 50 deaths reported last Tuesday. The overall death toll now stands at 128,823, while figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate puts the total at 154,000.

Joe Cahal: Joe Cahal is a freelance writer who has worked at the BBC and as a journalist and editor for British newspapers. Email: cahalj@westminster-daily.com
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