oris Johnson allegedly branded Matt Hancock’s performance on testing as “totally f***ing hopeless” and considered giving some of his responsibilities to Michael Gove, according to bombshell text messages.
Accompanying it was a series of screenshots, apparently showing correspondence between himself and Mr Johnson.
The former aide, adds: “We are still stuck on about 5-7k and MH saying today he’s ‘sceptical’ about getting to 10k by Monday which he said would ‘definitely’ happen on Tuesday. This means tens of 1000s of NHS staff aren’t at work over next critical three weeks…”
Mr Johnson appears to reply: “Totally f***ing hopeless.”
Mr Cummings said the exchange took place at 11.39pm on March 26 last year “minutes before” the PM tested positive for covid.
Although Mr Cummings insists that Mr Johnson’s expletive remark was aimed at Mr Hancock, the PM did not actually mention him by name.
However, in another exchange on the following morning of March 27, the Prime Minister allegedly refers to Mr Hancock as “hopeless” in a conversation about ventilators.
According to the screenshots, Mr Cummings messaged the PM to complain that Department of Health officials had turned down ventilators because prices had been “marked up”.
The Prime Minister apparently replied: “It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless.”
In another exchange on April 27 the PM allegedly describes the situation around personal protective equipment [PPE] as “a disaster” and appears to suggest diverting some responsibilities from Mr Hancock to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
“I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on,” Mr Johnson allegedly said.
In the Commons, SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford seized on Mr Cummings’s claims, and asked: “Perhaps the Prime Minister will clarify whether or not these are genuine – and whether the derogatory comments that he expressed about his Health Secretary are valid or not?”
Mr Johnson did not respond to the question. There was no immediate response from No 10 or the Health Secretary’s office. Both were invited to comment by the Standard.
Mr Cummings left No10 in November 2020 following a bitter power struggle. He has gone on to make a series of claims about the Government’s handling of the pandemic, levelling much of his criticism at Mr Hancock. During is recent select committee appearance he accused the Health Secretary of lying, failing on care homes and “criminal, disgraceful behaviour” on testing.
Mr Hancock denied his 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.
Labour said his messages show the need for an immediate start to the public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “This is more evidence that the Conservatives were too slow to lock down, too slow to deliver PPE and too slow to protect our care homes.
“With this evidence that even the PM thinks (Health Secretary Matt) 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.”