Labour questions why Hancock is still in charge following Cummings texts

Lawrence Kim
June 17, 2021

Mr Cummings depicted contrasting styles in the handling of key COVID meetings between Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who deputised for the prime minister after Mr Johnson fell seriously ill with COVID a year ago.

When asked whether he was hopeless by reporters today, Hancock said "I don't think so".

Mr Cummings also said Mr Hancock "had to be removed from crucial decisions" with Lord Paul Deighton brought in to oversee PPE, Dame Kate Bingham asked to lead the vaccines taskforce, and Baroness Dido Harding taking charge of NHS Test and Trace.

The incriminating exchanges also appear to mark a new blow in the conduct of government as Boris Johnson's former advisor Dominic Cummings seeks revenge against the PM and Mr Hancock.

The messages are Mr 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.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has full confidence in his under-fire health secretary, his spokesman said Wednesday, despite private WhatsApp exchanges emerging in which he appears to slam the minister's "hopeless" handling of the pandemic.

Mr Johnson replied: "The people of this country voted for this Government to get on and deliver free trade deals around the world and I believe they were totally right".

He said meetings chaired by Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, when he was in charge when Mr Johnson was recovering from coronavirus were "much more productive".

And there's no sense that No 10 can be sure that Mr Cummings' revenge is spent.

The PM's controversial former chief aide Dominic Cummings - who stepped down from the role in December - posted exchanges with him on social media.

He continued: 'It will not start for years and it is created to punt the tricky parts until after this PM has gone - unlike other PMs, this one has a clear plan to leave at the latest a couple of years after the next election, he wants to make money and have fun not "go on and on".

"He wants to make money and have fun not "go on and on", Mr Cummings wrote.

Asked if the Prime Minister called 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".

"OK. Wtf do we do?", the Prime Minister allegedly responded. The Prime Minister confirms a four-week delay to the lifting of all restrictions in England beyond 21 June.

"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.

Why is No10 lying, including to Parliament, about the fact that the original plan was "herd immunity by September" and had to be abandoned?

In another reply, Johnson blamed Hancock for the UK's difficulty in getting hold of ventilators.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the accusations from Mr Cummings as "absolutely damning".

Johnson's opponents said the messages underlined the need for a rapid public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic.

"Any minister who has been found to have broken the ministerial code and lied should and must resign".

Johnson's spokesman, Max Blain, declined to comment directly on the leaked messages.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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