It is a legitimate question in the wake of the jaw-dropping assertions, allegations and asides that Mr Cummings, the PM’s ex-aide, made to the Commons health and science committees about how many lives were lost due to a rudderless government in which he contended that ‘lions were led by donkeys’.
Such severity and savagery was unprecedented – such outspokenness has never previously been seen, or heard, from such a close confidante of a past premier, never mind the current occupant of 10 Downing Street.
Yet it needs stressing that this is a version of events offered by Mr Cummings – an individual whose own credibility remains compromised by that infamous visit to Durham and Barnard Castle during the first lockdown.
And, as he was speaking, his former boss was strongly rebutting one of the most damaging claims at Prime Minister’s Questions.
This is the withering contention by Mr Cummings that Mr Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary, “should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions”.
He went on to claim that Mark Sedwill – the Cabinet Secretary and Britain’s most senior civil servant – supported this view.
Yet, within minutes, the Prime Minister, responding to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, denied that this was the case.
But this did not deter Mr Cummings from making further explosive and sweeping claims about Mr Hancock’s competence, notably delays to procuring PPE equipment and setting up Test & Trace.
At one point, Jeremy Hunt, the co-chair, asked Mr Cummings to provide documentary evidence to back up the veracity of his more sweeping claims.
Time will tell if this happens – and where the committee ultimately pins the blame in this ‘lessons learned’ inquiry (as distinct from score settling). It does, however, appear that the Government was even more chaotic than the country was led to believe and, perhaps most scandalously of all, care homes were a complete after-thought.
“We didn’t really understand the catastrophe about people being sent back to care homes (from hospital) who were already Covid-infected until April,” said Mr Cummings.
In the past, this would have been a prima facie resignation issue. Yet these are still abnormal times and it remains to be seen if Mr Cummings changes the opinions of those who have given the PM the benefit of the doubt – notably over the vaccine rollout’s success.
Yet, as the Government’s truthfulness is dissected, keeping the virus under control and preparing for any future outbreaks still remains paramount after this apparent lesson in how not to manage a pandemic. The buck still stops with the PM, and if he has any doubts about key allies, not least Mr Hancock, he must act swiftly. Public health and the public interest now demands nothing less.