James O'Brien's analogy for people who 'still support' PM after Cummings' claims

26 May 2021, 13:54

By Fiona Jones

This was James O'Brien's instant reaction to people who wholeheartedly support the PM despite Dominic Cummings making truly damning allegations about the Government's Covid response before ministers.

Watch live: Cummings: PM dismissed Covid-19 as a "scare story" one month before first lockdown

Former chief adviser Dominic Cummings is facing MPs questions about the Government's response to Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic.

Boris Johnson's aide, who had a front seat to discussions about lockdown decisions, is giving his account to a joint meeting of both the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

Dominic Cummings' allegations have been extremely strong, including that the PM presumed Covid to be a "scare story" one month before the first lockdown, that the UK was no way prepared for Covid as "lots of key people were skiing", and repeatedly insisting Matt Hancock should be fired for lying.

James came up with an analogy for people that are still defending Boris Johnson despite his senior advisor, who was at the heart of decision making, giving evidence against his Covid response.

Drawing on the fairytale of the Emperor's New Clothes, James said, "This is like having the tailor come out and say there are no new clothes."

"From where I'm sitting, the boy in the crowd pointing at the naked emperor wondering why everybody around him still insisted the emperor was wearing clothes.

"You now have the tailor on the stage explaining that the emperor was naked all along. Yet, I don't know how many people in the crowd are arguing, or still insisting, that even if the person who was in the room when the emperor got dressed is explaining how there are no clothes, people in the crowd are still insisting that there are clothes."

James said, "It is objectively bizarre and at this point in proceedings, I can't actually get my head around it."

Read more: Cummings: Officials feared PM would try to be injected with Covid on TV to stop 'panic'

"This bloke was in the robing chamber at every turn...he was in the room where it happened, every single minute of every single day at this absolutely crucial juncture in our country's history.

"He is now saying that all of those people who were saying the emperor was naked, they weren't just right, they were more right than even they could ever have imagined. It was an absolute skip fire."

James reflected that he has been pointing out for five years the "absolute catastrophe that's been visited on our country by putting this man in Downing Street - and now the man that put him there is confirming all of your worst fears."

"You still have a very real sense of it not mattering," James said, pontificating that people who have insisted this for years "have not done a good enough job."

James pointed out that Cummings himself said it was "completely crackers" that he and Boris Johnson were leading the country through the pandemic, reflecting: "Unbelievable and yet all too believable."