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Dominic Cummings Attacks UK’s “Joke” Border Policy Amid Row Over Keeping India Off “Red List"

Boris Johnson's former adviser Dominic Cummings has called the UK's border policy a "joke" (Alamy)

4 min read

Dominic Cummings has labelled the UK’s border policy a “joke” amid a row over whether keeping India off the “red list” for two weeks helped import a mutant Covid variant to the country.

The former adviser to Boris Johnson said the government had been “totally hostile to learning from East Asia” during the pandemic, which had worsened the impact of coronavirus.

In a series of tweets he said western societies relied on tropes such as “Asians all do as they're told it won't work here” when they decided on lockdowns and other restrictions.

Cummings said “this nonsense is still influencing policy” now, citing what he called the UK’s  “joke borders policy”.

It comes on the day the third step on the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown has been taken, allowing for indoor hospitality to re-open, relaxing the guidance on personal contact, and the resumption of foreign travel.

People can go on holiday to a small number of countries on the government’s “green list”, where quarantine is not required upon return.

But there has been criticism over the weekend of the decision not to place India on the “red list” of countries, where all non-UK citizens are barred from entry and those returning home must isolate in an approved hotel for 10 days.

It was reporting more than 100,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day by 5 April, when neighbouring countries Pakistan and Bangladesh were placed on the list, but India itself was not added until 23 April, by which the daily cases had risen to 350,000.

On Saturday The Times reported that delay had allowed at least 20,000 passengers who could have been infected with a more transmissible virulent strain of the virus to enter Britain.

A surge of well over 1,000 cases of the so-called “Indian variant” now threatens to derail the continued easing of lockdown, with health secretary Matt Hancock saying yesterday it is "quite likely" it will become the dominant strain in the UK.

Cummings said in his post: “One of the biggest misunderstandings, spread by political pundits even now, is the ‘tradeoff’ argument. Fact: evidence clear that fast hard effective action best policy for economy AND for reducing deaths/suffering.”

He said the best example was Taiwan, where tough lockdown measures prevented widespread loss low life from the virus and left its economy “largely unscathed”.

But Cummings said “SW1” - the slang for those working in Westminster politics -  are “totally hostile to learning from East Asia”.

Cummings added: “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 February 2020. This nonsense is still influencing policy, eg our joke borders policy.”

The former aide to the PM is due to give evidence to a select committee next week about his role in the government’s response to the pandemic in the first months of 2020.

Today’s thread is one of a number of posts he has made in recent weeks giving his version of events from his time in Number 10, as well as criticising his old boss, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the media in the wake of this month’s local elections.

On Friday he also quoted a warning from Professor Christina Pagel, who sits on the Independent Sage group, against further unlocking.

She said the fourth of the government’s four tests - that the assessment of the risks from Covid-19 is not fundamentally changed by “variants of concern” - has not been met because of a lack of information about the virulence of the Indian mutation.

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