Matt Hancock says he isn’t hopeless

Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings

Mr Cummings depicted contrasting styles in the handling of key COVID meetings between Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who deputised for the prime minister after Mr Johnson fell seriously ill with COVID previous year.

LABOUR questioned why Matt Hancock is still in charge of Britain's Covid-19 response today after Boris Johnson allegedly described the Health Secretary as "hopeless" in the early months of the pandemic.

Cummings claims in his blog that Matt Hancock and Number 10 are "seeking to rewrite history", and writes that Matt Hancock is "creating a new version of reality in which he came up with the idea to ramp up testing before 14 March".

This was dismissed as "utter nonsense" by Johnson's press secretary in a briefing with reporters.

But the former chief aide argued the messages show otherwise, as do Mr Johnson's moves to carve up some of Mr Hancock's responsibilities and hand them to other individuals.

Johnson then replies by simply saying: "Totally fucking hopeless".

In another, later the same day, Cummings said that officials had "totally f****d up" procurement of medical ventilators - which were needed to treat COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

Cummings said: "The Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock] should have been fired for at least 15 or 20 things, including lying to everybody in multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly".

When he appeared before the same committee as the former aide last week, Mr Hancock said he had seen no evidence to suggest any medics died because of a lack of PPE.

In April 27 a year ago, the Prime Minister also appeared to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) "a disaster" and alluded to diverting some responsibilities to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

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"I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on".

"Hancock and Johnson need to respond to these latest revelations and immediately start the public inquiry into their handling of the pandemic".

The messages are Mr Cummings's first attempt to publish supporting evidence since his select committee appearance where he accused the Health Secretary of lying, failing on care homes and "criminal, disgraceful behaviour" on testing.

In his blog on Wednesday, Cummings published a series of screenshots that he said showed exchanges with Johnson in March 2020 about Hancock's handling of the pandemic.

Boris Johnson's former adviser has been a political headache for the Prime Minister since No 10 tried to blame Cummings for releasing texts between Johnson and businessman James Dyson in April.

Mr Cummings countered this by pointing out that the Prime Minister had diverted responsibility for vaccines to Dame Kate Bingham, testing to Baroness Harding, and PPE to Lord Deighton.

In a separate message, the prime minister appeared to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) "a disaster" and alluded to diverting some responsibilities to United Kingdom cabinet office minister Michael Gove.

"The cabinet secretary [Mark Sedwill] was investigating why we were refusing a 25% PPE markup when we had NHS staff wearing bin bags and dying for lack of PPE", he wrote.

And he also suggested Mr Johnson be asked whether he now agrees "with Hancock that there was no shortage of PPE or do you agree with yourself in April 2020 that PPE supply was "a disaster" that required moving Hancock?".

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