Carrie Symonds’ anger over a “completely trivial” story about their dog derailed focus early in pandemic, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former chief adviser, told the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees on Wednesday that on March 12, 2020, he had warned Boris Johnson that there were “big problems coming” if self-isolation measures were not announced immediately, warning of “100,000 to 500,000 deaths between optimistic and pessimistic scenarios”.
However, he said Mr Johnson was distracted by a “trivial” story in The Times newspaper about the Jack Russell cross he had adopted the year before with Ms Symonds, as well as a potential bombing campaign in the Middle East at the request of Donald Trump.
Mr Cummings said: “It sounds so surreal it couldn’t possibly be true… [but] that day, The Times had run a huge story about the Prime Minister and his girlfriend and their dog.
“The Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story and demanding that the press office deal with that.
“So we had this sort of completely insane situation in which part of the building was saying ‘are we going to bomb Iraq?’, part of the building was arguing about whether or not we’re going to do quarantine or not, [and] the Prime Minister has his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial.”
Later during the committee hearing, Mr Cummings said that leading up to his departure from Downing Street his relationship with the Prime Minister had worsened and added by which point, “his girlfriend is desperate to get rid of me and my team”.
The newspaper report at the time stated Dilyn, who Mr Johnson had previously described as a “most excellent animal”, had proven quite “sickly” and quoted one Whitehall source predicting: “I’m not sure that dog is going to make it through the next reshuffle.”
A further report stated that Mr Johnson had to pay more than £1,000 in repairs after Dilyn chewed valuable books and furniture. It was claimed Mr Johnson shouted: “Someone please shoot that f***ing dog.”
The insider added: “I don’t think he meant it literally.” It led to Mr Johnson having to say “the dog stays,” while visiting a secondary school in London.