Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reluctant to tighten Covid restrictions as cases were rising last autumn because he thought people dying from the virus were “essentially all over 80”, Dominic Cummings has claimed.

In an interview with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Cummings also said that Mr Johnson had messaged him to say: “I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff.”

He added that the prime minister wanted to let Covid “wash through the country,” rather than destroy the economy.

The interview, which will air on Tuesday evening, is the first time Mr Cummings, who was Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser, has given a one-on-one TV interview in his political career.

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In response to the claims, a Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister had taken the "necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice" throughout the pandemic, and that the government had prevented the NHS "from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.”

In the interview, Mr Cummings also said that, near the start of the pandemic last year, Mr Johnson had wanted to keep his weekly face-to-face meetings with the Queen going, despite some Downing Street staff falling ill with the virus - but he had to warn his boss that she might die if she caught coronavirus.

He also defended his controversial decision to drive to his parents' farm in County Durham after the first lockdown started, but admitted he had not "come clean" about all the reasons behind it, including "security concerns" around his family home in London.

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This is the first major interview Mr Cummings has given, but he has answered MPs' questions on the government's response to Covid.

The claims made at that session were explosive, but he's since been criticised for failing to provide the evidence to back up some of those assertions.