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.
They mark an extraordinary twist in a simmering feud that was ignited when Mr Cummings appeared before Parliament’s ‘lessons learned’ inquiry and alleged that the Health Secretary was a serial liar.
This was denied last week by Mr Hancock who maintained that he commanded the Prime Minister’s full confidence at all times – a pretence now called into question by the exchanges selectively disclosed by Mr Cummings.
As well as describing the availability of PPE equipment was “a disaster”, and contemplating putting Michael Gove in charge, Mr Johnson appears to use a profanity at one point in describing his Health Secretary as “hopeless” over testing policy.
Significantly, the word ‘hopeless’ features at least twice. Yet, while the PM’s explanation is awaited, what is more perturbing, however, is how pandemic policy was being made late at night by WhatsApp – with Mr Cummings able to fire off his frustrations – when this crisis required the whole Government, including Ministers and unelected advisors, pulling together and putting personal rivalries to one side, especially at the time when Mr Johnson was recovering from Covid.
Yet it is clear that the PM had next to no confidence in his Health Secretary from as long ago as March 2020. More than one year on, it is not Mr Hancock that has little hope left, it is the public. Step aside, Secretary of State, and let us at least have a little hope.
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