Health

Johnson adviser said Tories do not care about poor people or NHS


Voters are right to think Tory MPs largely do not care about poorer people or the NHS, according to Dominic Cummings in comments that have emerged from two years ago.

Boris Johnson’s new senior adviser and a key architect of Brexit gave his damning view on Conservative MPs at a conference in 2017, where he said: “People think, and by the way I think most people are right: ‘The Tory party is run by people who basically don’t care about people like me.’

“That is what most people in the country have thought about the Tory party for decades. I know a lot of Tory MPs and I am sad to say the public is basically correct. Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS. And the public has kind of cottoned on to that.”

Cummings is now integral to Johnson’s administration, which has a majority of just two and is relying on Conservative and DUP MPs to back his Brexit strategy of taking the UK out of the EU by 31 October – unless he suspends parliament to achieve a no-deal exit.

Ian Lavery, the chair of the Labour party, said it was a “staggering admission from the prime minister’s right-hand man”.

“As Dominic Cummings says himself, the Conservatives don’t care about anything apart from looking after their rich friends – whether that means selling off our NHS to American corporations in pursuit of a Trump trade deal, or giving tax cuts to big businesses while cutting public services. We need a general election and a Labour government to protect our health service from the likes of Boris Johnson,” Lavery said.

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At the Nudgestock event in 2017, Cummings said Johnson and Michael Gove, the co-leaders of the Vote Leave campaign who are now running the government, had recognised the dangers of being seen to go back on their pledge to give £350m a week to the NHS after Brexit.

He said the pair realised they needed to keep their promise on the NHS “not only from the self-preservation point of view but also from the political smart point of view; they understood the power of actually delivering”.

The adviser said Johnson was 99.9% committed to implementing the pledge when it was discussed after the EU referendum result.

Since becoming prime minister, Johnson has not repeated that promise but he has reportedly ordered that the delivery of cash for the NHS promised by Theresa May be speeded up so the frontline sees the benefit. An additional £4bn is due to be given to the NHS over the course of this financial year.

On the £350m pledge, Cummings said at the conference: “Me, Michael and Boris had talked about this in private before the vote and actually on the day of victory in the Vote Leave office, so when Boris came in on Friday 24th and punched the air and whatnot, he and I walked into this little room, amid beer cans and craziness, and I said to him: ‘The first thing you do is say we are going to meet this promise.’

“And he smashed his fist down on the table and said: ‘Absolutely no question about it.’ And if Michael had not taken out Boris, and Boris had run as leader, I am 99.9% recurring – as sure as I can be about anything – that Boris would have said I will honour the promises we made in that campaign.”

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During a stump speech on the leadership campaign trail, Johnson told party members the NHS needed to be reformed, and fired them up for a general election by asking them to be ready to “wallop Jeremy Corbyn”.

Asked by one party member what he would do with the NHS, Johnson said the health service was “not getting the kind of support, and indeed the kind of changes and management, that it needs”, suggesting he would aim to overhaul the service.

He said Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, had helped him get elected president of the Oxford Union as a student, and together they would “sort things out”.

Friends of Cummings said: “Dom was clear that he thinks the British public care most about leaving the EU and want more money for the NHS. And with this prime minister, that’s exactly what the public will get.”



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