The government produced “bad policy” at the start of the pandemic because it “didn’t really understand” the coronavirus, the former head of communications No.10 admitted.

Lee Cain, who left Downing Street late last year after falling out with Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie, said the first lockdown should have taken place a week earlier, but insisted the fact that the errors were justifiable.

In his first interview since leaving his post as communications director, Mr Cain – a close ally of Dominic Cummings – said it was initially difficult to get the government’s message out on Covid-19.

“You can’t have good communications with bad politics,” he told Politico. “And I think one of the challenges at the beginning is that we sort of make policies in real time.

“You know, we didn’t really understand the virus and we made decisions that changed people’s lives. Can you go to work? Can you go to school? Can you meet so many people? These are fundamental freedoms that we were sort of being rolled back. “

He described the “compromise” of allowing pubs and restaurants to stay open while telling the public not to go, adding: “I think the communicators in the room were very frank in saying, ‘Well , that obviously won’t hold up. ‘ “

Asked to reflect on the government’s overall strategy during the crisis phase of the pandemic, Mr Cain said, “Looking back, we probably would have all locked down a week earlier.

“But, again, the challenge with all of these things is just that these are big decisions that you make in real time.”

He admitted the fury over Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham during the lockdown was’ not our best time ‘, but insisted it was’ absurd’ to claim the controversy was reducing support from the public to strict anti-Covid measures.

During the interview, Mr Cain said he left Number 10 on his own despite the very public fallout with the Prime Minister’s wife.

He claimed Mr Johnson made him sausages and “somewhat lumpy” mash during a meal in the Downing Street apartment in an attempt to keep him in government.

Mr Cain also revealed that Mr Johnson had considered resigning Theresa May’s cabinet six months before doing so. He spoke to allies about his departure as Foreign Secretary at the end of 2017, when the UK and the EU agreed on the Irish backstop plan which the Brexiteers believe would risk trapping the Great Britain. Brittany permanently in the European customs union.

Instead, Mr Johson stayed on until the summer of 2018 and resigned from the ‘Checkers’ plan for the alignment of UK and EU rules which was approved by Ms May’s team.

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