Boris Johnson never wanted tough border controls to prevent cases of coronavirus being brought in from overseas, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
The Prime Minister’s former adviser said Mr Johnson wanted to be like the mayor from the film Jaws, who kept the beaches open to protect the local economy despite the threat posed by a killer shark.
Mr Cummings said the policy was “madness” because while there were restrictions imposed domestically from the end of March 2020, there were travellers coming in from infected areas.
“Fundamentally, there was no proper border policy because the Prime Minister never wanted a proper border policy,” he told MPs.
“Repeatedly in meeting after meeting I and others said all we have to do is download the Singapore or Taiwan documents in English and impose them here.
“We’re imposing all of these restrictions on people domestically but people can see that everyone is coming in from infected areas, it’s madness, it’s undermining the whole message that we should take it seriously.
“At that point he was back to, ‘lockdown was all a terrible mistake, I should’ve been the mayor of Jaws, we should never have done lockdown one, the travel industry will all be destroyed if we bring in a serious border policy’.
“To which, of course, some of us said there’s not going to be a tourism industry in the autumn if we have a second wave, the whole logic was completely wrong.”
Mr Johnson has previously described the mayor from Jaws as one of his heroes.
Mr Cummings said the border policy is still inadequate, partly because the Prime Minister was dealing with “Tory MPs going crackers about it”.
“We never won the argument,” he said.
“As of today, look at the whole thing about variants. We still don’t have a proper border policy in my opinion.”
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said Mr Cummings’ comments explained why the borders policy was “so terrible”.
She said on March 13, 2020 all the border measures were lifted and there would be “nothing in place” until June 8.
Since then “border policies have been late, chaotic or full of gaps”.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Mr Cummings’ admission was “absolutely devastating” for Mr Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“The Prime Minister and Home Secretary now have very serious questions to answer about the dire failings they have overseen – and must urgently get a grip of the dangerous border chaos they have created,” he said.
But Downing Street defended its border policies as Mr Cummings continued to deliver his criticism of the Government.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously I would refute that. We have some of the toughest border measures in the world and we have taken action whenever necessary to keep the public safe.”