Boris Johnson described health secretary Matt Hancock as “hopeless” early in the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, according to a message published by former aide Dominic Cummings.
“Totally fucking hopeless”
Cummings, who has blamed Hancock for failings during the coronavirus response, published a screenshot apparently showing a WhatsApp exchange between himself and the prime minister. On 3 March 2020, the controversial former aide highlighted the US’s ramping up of testing capacity and criticised Hancock for saying he was “sceptical” about meeting a target.
Johnson purportedly responded:
Cummings, who left Downing Street in November during a bitter power struggle in No 10, has targeted much of his criticism since leaving at the health secretary. In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Cummings also published another private message about the struggles to procure ventilators for coronavirus patients.
A contact appearing to be Johnson replied on 27 March last year:
It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless
In another message, on 27 April 2020, 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. Johnson apparently added:
I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on
The messages are Cummings’ 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.
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.
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