Johnson described United Kingdom health minister as ‘totally hopeless’, according to Cummings

  • Johnson described United Kingdom health minister as ‘totally hopeless’, according to Cummings

Johnson described United Kingdom health minister as ‘totally hopeless’, according to Cummings

Asked if Mr Johnson intends to quit as PM, his Press Secretary said at lunchtime: 'The PM has actually been asked this before and has said himself it is utter nonsense, so that still stands.

Dominic Cummings has published expletive-laden messages apparently from Boris Johnson, in which the PM brands the health secretary "hopeless".

These reveal that on two occasions, Mr Johnson described Mr Hancock's efforts during the government's initial response to the COVID crisis as "hopeless".

Dominic Cummings, who has been engaged in a weeks-long feud with Downing Street, published a lengthy blogpost that he claimed showed details of how "Number10/Hancock have repeatedly lied about the failures last year".

The disclosure of the messages is likely to cause significant embarrassment to Mr Johnson and will likely reignite speculation about Mr Hancock's future.

In one exchange on March 3rd previous year, Mr Cummings highlighted the US's rapid increase of testing capacity and criticised Mr Hancock for saying he was "sceptical" about meeting a new United Kingdom target having earlier said it would "definitely" be met.

Mr Cummings also published another exchange about the struggles to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients, saying officials were turning down equipment because of price hikes.

In the wake of the blog post, Mr Hancock was asked by a reporter whether he was hopeless while in the back of a ministerial auto.

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 another exchange, said to be from 27 April a year ago, Mr Johnson is said to have openly wondered about taking responsibility for procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) away from Mr Hancock and giving it to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

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

In response, Mr Cummings described the department as a "total shitshow" and warned that the move could worsen the situation.

The WhatsApp exchanges published by Cummings appear to show he played a key role in his dealings with Johnson, who at one point asks him: "Wtf do we do?"

This culminated in an extraordinary appearance before a Westminster committee last month, during which he said Johnson initially believed that Covid-19 was a "scare story", and that Matt Hancock should have been fired for lying.

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 Mr Johnson had diverted responsibility for vaccines to Dame Kate Bingham, testing to Baroness Harding, and PPE to Lord Deighton.

The PM's former aide accuses Mr Hancock of trying to rewrite history at a select committee session last week.

A further message suggests Mr Johnson called the handling of PPE "a disaster" and considered removing health secretary Mr Hancock from some of his responsibilities and replacing him with 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.

More than one year on, it is not Mr Hancock that has little hope left, it is the public.