UK Covid live news: minister casts doubt on Dominic Cummings’ credibility ahead of him giving Covid evidence to MPs

Good morning. Today we are going to get what is probably the most eagerly-anticipated select committee hearing in the Commons since Rupert Murdoch turned up 10 years ago to answer questions about phone hacking. This morning’s attendee is another sometime hate figure for liberal, progressive Britain, although Dominic Cummings is now primarily seen as a Covid whistleblower and a figure hell-bent on damaging Boris Johnson’s premiership, rather than the Vote Leave mastermind who was largely responsible for putting him in No 10 in the first place.

Here is my colleague Aubrey Allegretti’s preview story head of the hearing.

Here is a background from Aubrey on what to expect. And here is a more brutal take from my colleague Marina Hyde, who says “the level of self-mythologising indulged in by Cummings and his capos has been off the scale”.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, was doing the morning media round for No 10 this morning and on Times Radio he rubbished Cummings using the nickname that Boris Johnson uses to describe Sir Keir Starmer, “Captain Hindsight”.

Patrick Maguire

Grant Shapps just described Dominic Cummings as “Captain Hindsight” on Times Radio

May 26, 2021

Given that Starmer has had a much better record than Johnson at anticipating the need for lockdown measures, that might not be as effective a put-down as Shapps thinks. But Shapps also cast doubt on Cummings’ reliability. He told BBC Breakfast:

I will leave it to others to judge how reliable a witness that former adviser happens to be.

Asked if Cummings was a “trusted adviser” to the PM when he worked in Downing Street as Johnson’s chief strategist, Shapps replied:

He was certainly an adviser of the government. It’s for others to decide the trusted part of it.

Here is the timetable for the day.

9.30am: Dominic Cummings starts giving evidence to a joint hearing of the Commons health and science committees.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

1.30pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.

Today I will be mostly focusing on what Cummings says. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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