Dominic Cummings might have thought his flagrant disregard for COVID-19 safety precautions would produce the toughest public rebuke he could ever face. But that’s just because the widely-reviled political strategist and chief adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t see Claire Perry O’Neill coming until it was too late to duck.
“I’ve been determined not to sink to political mudslinging and focus on building a grand alliance for climate repair,” tweeted Perry O’Neill, the former UK climate minister originally appointed as COP 26 president until she was fired—“unceremoniously sacked”, Climate Home News says—by Cummings in January. “But this government, with breathtakingly arrogant, closed-minded muppets like #DominicCummngs in charge, couldn’t deliver a pizza, let alone @COP26.”
Climate Home picks up on the in-house row as part of its coverage of the decision last week to postpone the next United Nations climate conference by a full year, until November 2021. “At the height of the pandemic, the UK had the second-highest excess death rate per million people after Spain, among countries producing comparable data,” Climate Home notes, citing the Financial Times.
“The government has been heavily criticized for leaving it late to introduce lockdown measures,” the story states. And “in the past week, British newspaper front pages have been dominated by revelations the prime minister’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, broke the lockdown rules he helped to write, refused to apologize, and kept his job.”
Among Cummings’ defenders was Perry O’Neill’s replacement as COP 26 president, Alok Sharma, who was among the cabinet ministers willing to accept the adviser’s explanations for travelling while symptomatic and urged the public to “move on” from the issue.
“While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change,” said Sharma, in his statement announcing the COP postponement. “The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience, and well-being, and COP 26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean, resilient recovery.”