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The Guardian view on the Covid inquiry: shocking failures under the spotlight | Editorial

Evidence from Dominic Cummings and other key figures points to a deadly combination of chaos and recklessness

Even given all that is already known about poor decision-making, avoidable deaths, lockdown-breaking parties and atrocious procurement, the evidence being related to the Covid inquiry has the power to shock. Though Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are not due to testify for a few more weeks, the reflections of Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain and other key figures at No 10 shine an unforgiving spotlight on the heart of government. On Monday it was revealed that Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, described the “Eat out to help out” scheme launched in August 2020 as “Eat out to help out the virus”. On Tuesday Mr Cummings said that the prime minister was routinely described as “the trolley” – a reference to his erratic nature and chaotic changes of policy direction.

From the man who went from being Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser to his enemy, such contempt might be viewed as sour grapes. But a diary kept by Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, revealed that he too saw Mr Johnson as “weak and indecisive”. Simon Case, the cabinet secretary whose evidence has been delayed for health reasons, complained that Johnson “cannot lead”. Mr Cain, the former head of communications, put it more gently when he told the inquiry that the pandemic was the “wrong crisis for his skillset”.

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