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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
PA
# health minister
Matt Hancock says he doesn't think he's 'hopeless', in response to Cummings WhatsApp screenshot
The former Downing Street aide is claiming that Boris Johnson called his health minister ‘totally f*cking hopeless’ last March.

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson described Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “fucking hopeless”, according to a WhatsApp message published by former aide Dominic Cummings.

Cummings, who left Downing Street in November, published a screenshot from March last year purporting to show an exchange between him and the Prime Minister.

It showed the controversial aide criticising Hancock over efforts to ramp up testing, to which a contact who is allegedly Boris Johnson replied: “Totally fucking hopeless.”

When asked whether he was hopeless by reporters today, Hancock said “I don’t think so”.

Downing Street has insisted Boris Johnson has full confidence in Health Secretary Matt Hancock but did not dispute the authenticity of messages in which he apparently called him hopeless.

Asked if the messages published by Dominic Cummings are genuine, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our focus is not examining those specific images but delivering on the public’s priorities.

“I don’t plan to get into the detail of what’s been published.”

prime-ministers-questions PA Health Secretary Matt Hancock watches Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak during PMQs. PA

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.”

Asked if Johnson has full confidence in Hancock, the spokesman said: “Yes.”

A very public row between Bojo and Dom

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.

Cummings left Downing Street last year after a behind-the-scenes power struggle with Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds. Since the incident with Dyson, he has been publishing blog posts and WhatsApp screenshots that he claims expose Johnson’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and erratic chairing of emergency meetings.

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.

Cummings said: “The Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock] should have been fired for at least 15 or 20 things, including lying to everybody in multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly.”

He said that Johnson “came close” to firing the health minister in April 2020, “but just fundamentally wouldn’t do it”.

Responding to the testimony, Downing Street said Johnson continues to have confidence in Hancock, and does not believe that he has been untruthful.

With reporting from the Press Association.

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