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F***ing hopeless: Cummings leaks 'PM's Whatsapp exchange over Hancock'
16 June 2021, 12:55 | Updated: 16 June 2021, 14:50
Boris Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings has published a WhatsApp exchange in which the Prime Minister appeared to describe Health Secretary Matt Hancock's performance 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 in November, published a screenshot purporting to show an exchange between him and the Prime Minister.
It showed the controversial aide criticising Mr Hancock over testing to which a contact purporting to be the Prime Minister replied: "Totally f****** hopeless."
Mr Cummings wrote online: "Evidence on the covid disaster: as the PM said himself, Hancock's performance on testing, procurement, PPE, care homes etc was 'totally f***ing hopeless', & his account to MPs was fiction."
Mr Cummings has had a high-profile falling out with Matt Hancock over the handling of the pandemic, making multiple accusations against him of serious failings throughout the crisis.
Downing Street does not deny the messages published by Dominic Cummings from Boris Johnson are genuine. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I don’t plan to get into the detail of what has been published."
Asked if the Prime Minister called Mr Hancock hopeless, the spokesman said: "I'm not planning to engage with every allegation put forward, the Prime Minister worked very closely with the health and care secretary throughout and continues to do so."
Asked if Mr Johnson has full confidence in Mr Hancock, the spokesman said: "Yes."
The health secretary is due to speak at an all-party parliamentary group on 'dying well' later this afternoon.
In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Mr Cummings also published another private message about the struggles to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
"It's Hancock. He has been hopeless," a contact appearing to be Mr Johnson replied on March 27 last year.
In another message, on April 27 last year, the Prime Minister appeared to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) "a disaster" and alluded to diverting some responsibilities to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
"I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on," Mr Johnson apparently added.
Mr Hancock has denied the Brexit campaigner's allegations and said last week it was "telling" that he was yet to provide the joint Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee with written evidence.
Mr Cummings originally made the string of claims in an extended seven-hour session in front of a joint session of MPs at the Commons Heath, and Science and Technology committees.
He said Mr Hancock "should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things."
He accused him of lying during meetings in the Cabinet room, using scientific advisers as a 'shield' and called for him to be sacked in April 2020, saying he was supported in this by Sir Mark Sedwill who was at the time the UK's most senior civil servant.
Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “This is more evidence that the Conservatives were too slow to lockdown, too slow to deliver PPE and too slow to protect our care homes.
“With this evidence that even the PM thinks Hancock is useless, why in the worst pandemic in our history has he left him in charge?
“Hancock and Johnson need to respond to these latest revelations and immediately start the public inquiry into their handling of the pandemic.”