Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Gordon Brown responds to 'PM's texts' on 'f***ing hopeless' Hancock
16 June 2021, 19:37
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded to Boris Johnson appearing to brand the Health Secretary "totally f***ing hopeless" in a WhatsApp message.
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.
Eddie put it to Mr Brown: "As Prime Minister, if you were in the middle of a crisis and you had a Cabinet member who you considered to be 'f***ing hopeless', wouldn't you have sacked them?"
"We don't know all the details, it does make the case for a public inquiry because we need to know why things were so slow in getting off the ground," Mr Brown said.
"Remember testing was slow, the lockdowns happened later than people think they should have happened, because we delayed in making these decisions.
"Of course, Dominic Cummings is not just talking about what happened in March at the origins of the crisis, he's also talking in other evidence about the second lockdown.
"I think we've got to get all the evidence and see what went wrong, but clearly when people were falling sick and lives had to be saved we were behind the curve in testing and behind the curve in protection of individuals from the disease."
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."