Border policy is a joke, says Dominic Cummings amid Indian variant row

A teaser of what to expect next week from Boris Johnson’s “Disrupter-in-Chief”.

Henry Zeffman Tuesday May 18 2021 www.thetimes.co.uk 

The UK’s border policy is a “joke”, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser has said as the row intensifies over whether the Indian coronavirus variant could have been stopped before it entered Britain.

Dominic Cummings accused the government of being “totally hostile to learning from east Asia” over the course of the pandemic, resulting in a reluctance to close the UK’s borders.

Writing on Twitter, Cummings, who left Downing Street during a power struggle late last year, said that “one of the biggest misunderstandings” was that there is a trade-off between locking down to stop Covid and protecting the economy. “Fact: evidence clear that fast hard effective action best policy for economy AND for reducing deaths/suffering,” he wrote. “Best example: Taiwan. Also shows that if you really get your act together not only is econ largely unscathed but life is ~ normal.”

He continued: “There’s a general western problem based on nonsense memes like ‘asians all do as they’re told it won’t work here’. This is what many behavioural science ‘experts’/charlatans argued, disastrously, in Feb2020. This nonsense is STILL influencing policy, eg our joke borders policy.”

Cummings will give evidence to MPs next week about his role in the government’s response to the pandemic.

There has been increasing criticism of the UK’s decision not to close down travel from India earlier. At least 20,000 passengers who may have been infected with the variant were allowed to enter Britain before India was added to the red list on April 23, according to a Sunday Times analysis.

Johnson had been hoping to fly to Delhi on April 25 to discuss a post-Brexit trade deal with Narendra Modi, the prime minister; something opposition figures blame for the government’s delay in blocking travel from India.

In the Commons yesterday Yvette Cooper, Labour head of the home affairs select committee, said that people would be “angry” that “the government’s border measures have failed to prevent the spread of a new variant”.