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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not prepared to impose lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19 to save the elderly and denied the National Health Service would be overwhelmed, his former top adviser said in an interview aired on Monday.

In his first TV interview since leaving his job last year, excerpts of which were released on Monday, Dominic Cummings said Johnson did not want to impose a second lockdown in the autumn last year because “the people who are dying are essentially all over 80”.

Cummings also claimed that Johnson wanted to meet Queen Elizabeth, 95, despite signs that the virus was spreading in his office at the start of the pandemic and when the public had been told to avoid all unnecessary contact, particularly with the elderly.

The political adviser, who has accused the government of being responsible for thousands of avoidable Covid-19 deaths, shared a series of messages from October that are allegedly from Johnson to aides.

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