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Boris Johnson's working style during COVID 'very frustrating' and 'dysfunctional'

Boris Johnson's working style during COVID 'very frustrating' and 'dysfunctional'


Britain's most senior civil servant told the COVID inquiry he found Boris Johnson's working style “very frustrating” and “dysfunctional”.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was questioned on Thursday over highly critical WhatsApp messages from him that emerged during his court testimony. investigation Last year.

He said he had deep “regret” for sending scathing messages about Mr Johnson during the pandemic and said he did not initially understand how “personally” difficult it was for the former Prime Minister to present COVID confinements, describing him as a “great communicator”.

Hugo Keith KC, senior adviser to the inquiry, asked about Mr Johnson's style of prime minister, to which Mr Case replied: “Every prime minister has his own approach to doing that and as I ' said, in my job I found this very frustrating.

“I just don’t think I understood how difficult he found it personally.

“I don’t think I really understood how, at a fairly deep ideological level, the Prime Minister saw that the massive confinement of the population was a harm.

“He has always been particularly focused on children and education, and the damage he believes is being done to society by major decisions around lockdowns.”

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Mr Case said he had “stepped in to try and get some serious chats on WhatsApp” during COVID.

Regarding the day-to-day administration of government, Mr Case said: “It was definitely dysfunctional and difficult. Oddly enough, sclerotic is not quite the right word.

“The problem was that it was almost too dynamic.

“It was difficult to determine what course of action to take and to be sure that the course of action would be consistent. I think it's almost the opposite of sclerosis.”

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In WhatsApp messages to his predecessor, Lord Sedwill, in July 2020, before becoming head of the civil service, Mr Case wrote: 'I have never seen a group of people less well equipped to lead a country' .

He described Mr Johnson and his entourage as “basically savage” and suggested his wife, Carrie, was “the real person in charge” in Number 10.

WhatsApp regrets

Mr Case expressed regret at sending the “frustrations of the moment”, adding: “These are very crude, human expressions of the moment – they don't represent the whole story but I recognize they are part of the story. 'history. .

“Many of them are now demanding an apology for the things I said and the way I expressed myself.”

Asked whether a message he sent saying “Crisis + pygmies = toxic behavior” was about the abilities of members of the Cabinet Office and Number 10, he said it was a “fair conclusion”.

He said that despite “great people working incredibly hard in impossible circumstances”, there was a “lack of team spirit” and a “difficult atmosphere”.

“Good people were just being blown to pieces,” he said, describing duplicative efforts and overlapping meetings.

Mr. Case's appearance came as he returned to work seven months after stepping down for medical reasons, which meant he was absent from hearings last year when other top officials at Westminster testified.

The inquiry, announced by Mr Johnson, is an independent public inquiry which began in June 2022 to examine the UK's preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.




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