Dominic Cummings publishes texts claiming Boris Johnson called Matt Hancock 'totally f***ing hopeless'
Dominic Cummings has claimed Boris Johnson described Matt Hancock as “totally fucking hopeless” during the pandemic after releasing a series of WhatsApp messages.
In what the prime minister's former advisor claims are private messages with Johnson, the PM also appears to have described the health secretary's handling of key elements of the pandemic response as “a disaster”.
No.10 has refused to engage on whether or not they believe the messages to be genuine.
In a newsletter recently set up by Cummings, he details his time in Downing Street dealing with the Covid-19 crisis before being sacked last autumn.
The first installment, released this morning, includes screengrabs of what Cummings claims to be WhatsApp messages with Johnson that took place on the evening of March 26, 2020, the night the PM found out he had tested positive for coronavirus.
The ex-aide appeared to text his old boss complaining about the UK’s failure to increase testing capacity and criticising Hancock for allegedly misleading other senior figures.
The reply, apparently from Johnson, read: “Totally fucking hopeless.”
Another message from the PM the day after amid a row over purchasing ventilators is said to have read: “It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless.”
Cummings says that he has chosen to publish the messages to show that “Number 10/Hancock have repeatedly lied about the failures last year” and are “seeking to rewrite history”, something the Cabinet minister has strongly denied.
Cummings also includes another conversation that he claims is with the PM on 27 April where Johnson appears to want to take responsibilities away from Hancock. “On PPE it is a disaster. I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on,” the message reads.
But the adviser replied: “With the Cabinet Office such a total shitshow I’m afraid this would have a severe risk of making it worse not better.”
"OK. Wtf do we do?," the PM allegedly responded.
Responding to Cummings’ claims the PM’s official spokesperson said they do not intend to engage with "every allegation" made by Cummings.
“The Prime Minister has set out that we will hold a public inquiry next year, the health secretary has given hours of evidence to the parliamentary committee, and obviously I've taken a number of questions on this issue previously," they said.
“Our focus is on recovering from the pandemic moving through the roadmap, distributing vaccines and delivering the public's priorities.”
When challenged about the messages by the SNP's Ian Blackford at Prime Minister's Questions, shortly after their release, Johnson did not respond.
Last week it was confirmed that Cummings had failed to submit documentary evidence of incendiary claims he had made around the government's handling of the pandemic during a joint hearing of the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committees.
Despite now having published what he claims to be damning evidence of some of these claims this morning, he has not also formally submitted these to parliament.
"Dominic Cummings has not submitted any additional evidence to the joint inquiry at this point," a committee clerk confirmed.
The release of the uncomfortable messages for the health secretary is the latest episode in a decades-long feud between Cummings and Hancock, which was reignited when the adviser appeared in front of the science and health select committees in March.
It was ramped up again last month at a second evidence session for MPs when he repeatedly blamed the health secretary for failures at the start of the pandemic, and claiming he should have been fired 15-20 times for lying to the PM and others.
Elsewhere in Cummings' 7,000-word blog post published today, he accuses Hancock of pretending he had the “heroic” idea of ramping up testing to 100,000 a day.
He says the health secretary ignored what was happening in care homes because as was planning a press conference about his testing target instead.
"The lack of PPE killed NHS and care home staff in March-May," Cummings wrote.
He alleges shipments of PPE were delayed because officials wanted to send it via boat rather than fly it in to save money.
Cummings also discussed the period in which Dominic Raab acted in place of Johnson when the PM was hospitalised with severe Covid last April, claiming the foreign secretary did a better job.
"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 said of Raab's approach.
In a tweet he also laid out questions he believed Johnson should be asked about the how the government handled the pandemic.
They include: "Why is Number 10 lying, including to Parliament, about the fact that the original plan was 'herd immunity by September’ and had to be abandoned?”
Appearing in front of the same enquiry last week Hancock denied the Cummings’ allegations, and said it was "telling" he was yet to provide written evidence to back them up, something which Cummings has still not done.
The health secretary said he had "no idea" why the former adviser had a dispute with him and wanted him fired.
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