‘Don’t pick a fight with Marcus Rashford’: Dominic Cummings claims Boris Johnson was warned TWICE not to start a ‘stupid’ battle with the Manchester United star over free school meals but PM dug in before being forced to ‘surrender’
- Dominic Cummings said the PM was warned against battle with Marcus Rashford
- Mr Cummings said that the premier decided to ‘pick a fight’ anyway and then lost
- PM’s ex-aide said it was a ‘stupid’ decision by PM over the free school meals row
The Prime Minister’s former top adviser told MPs that Mr Johnson had been urged to simply fix the policy on extending the meals during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mr Johnson opted to dig in and engage in a ‘stupid’ battle with the Manchester United and England football star which ultimately resulted in the premier being forced to ‘surrender’.
Mr Cummings made the comments as he blamed Mr Johnson for the Government’s communication problems during the crisis.
He said that if the PM ‘changes his mind 10 times a day’ and ‘contradicts’ his own policies then it does not matter how many ‘great people’ you have working on messaging, you will still end up with a ‘communications disaster zone’.
Dominic Cummings today claimed Boris Johnson was twice warned by aides not to ‘pick a fight’ with Marcus Rashford over free school meals
Mr Rashford forced the Government into two humiliating U-turns on free school meals last year
Mr Rashford forced the Government into two humiliating U-turns on free school meals last year as his campaigning resulted in ministers agreeing to rollout lunch provision outside of term time to less well-off families.
In June, the Government performed a U-turn after the footballer called for ministers to reconsider their decision not to extend the existing food voucher system into the summer holidays.
A further £170million was then committed in November to extending the scheme through until Christmas.
Mr Cummings told a joint session of the health and science select committees that ‘inevitably’ some mistakes were made by the Government on communications during the pandemic.
‘But all of the big things that people think, “why did that go wrong”, “why did that go wrong”, like for example the whole thing with Rashford, the director of communications said to the Prime Minister twice “do not pick a fight with Rashford, obviously we should do this instead”.
‘The Prime Minister decided to pick a fight and then surrendered twice.
‘After that everyone says “oh, your communications are stupid”. No, what is stupid is picking a fight with Rashford over school meals and what should have happened is just getting the school meals policy right.
‘It is easy to blame communications for bad policy and bad decision making.’
Mr Cummings told MPs that communications problems during the pandemic were often the result of ‘bad policy’ and ‘bad decisions’ as he took aim at Mr Johnson.
Mr Cummings blamed Mr Johnson for the Government’s ‘communications disaster zone’ during the pandemic
He said: ‘I think that some of the people working on the communications were some of the best people in the world and one of the great myths about the whole thing is that “oh, the reason for all of these problems was bad communications”.
‘Fundamentally the reason for all these problems was bad policy, bad decisions, bad planning, bad operational capability.
‘It doesn’t matter if you have got great people doing communications if the Prime Minister changes his mind 10 times a day and then calls up the media and contradicts his own policy day after day after day.
‘You are going to have a communications disaster zone.’