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Blackford asks for PM to confirm the messages leaked by Cummings
16 June 2021, 13:06 | Updated: 16 June 2021, 14:24
Boris Johnson has refused to answer questions about leaked WhatsApp messages in which he allegedly called Health Secretary Matt Hancock "totally f***ing hopeless".
Just minutes before the weekly PMQs session, Dominic Cummings - the PM's former aide and right-hand man - released what he claimed were screenshots between him and Mr Johnson.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer appeared to swerve asking questions about the leaks, but SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford used his question to raise the subject.
Instead, Sir Keir used his questions to discuss Mr Johnson's response to closing borders with India to stem the spread of the Delta variant.
"As we enter the chamber we see what is reported to be WhatsApp communication between the Prime Minister and Dominic Cummings.
"Perhaps the Prime Minister will clarify on whether or not these are genuine and whether the derogatory comments that he expressed on his Health Secretary are valid or not."
But Mr Johnson chose to answer his following question on meat exports from Australia, deciding to leave the questions about Dominic Cummings' revelations unanswered.
In the bombshell messages, Mr Johnson apparently described Health Secretary Matt Hancock as "totally f***ing hopeless".
The screenshot purportedly shows Mr Johnson using the expletive in a response to Mr Hancock's performance as Health Secretary on "testing, procurement, PPE, care homes etc," according to tweets posted by Mr Cummings.
Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street late last year, posted the images to his online blog.
In another, Mr Johnson purportedly called Mr Hancock "hopeless", while in another, he apparently wrote about the personal protective equipment "disaster".
Mr Johnson appeared to write: "I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on."
This alludes to the PM wanting to transfer responsibilities to cabinet office minister Michael Gove.
Mr Hancock has denied Mr Cummings' allegations, and told the Commons' joint Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee that it was "telling" the ex-Vote Leave chief had not provided written evidence.
Mr Cummings first made his explosive allegations in front of the joint committee, in which he insisted Mr Hancock "should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things".
His allegations included assertions Mr Hancock lied in Cabinet room meetings and used scientific advisers as a "shield" from criticism.
Downing Street did not dispute the authenticity of the messages on Wednesday afternoon but insisted Mr Johnson has full confidence in Mr Hancock.