Matt Hancock hits back at Dominic Cummings over Covid claims

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Matt Hancock taunts Dominic Cummings for claiming the government ‘functioned better’ after he left and the prime minister gave the health minister his ‘healthy support’ during the Covid crisis, despite an employee demanding he be fired

  • Matt Hancock hit back at Dominic Cummings’ bombshell claims today
  • Health Minister said government ‘functioned better’ after ex-Prime Minister’s aide left
  • Said he had the PM’s ‘healthy support’ despite ex-assistant demanding he be fired

Matt Hancock urged Dominic Cummings today for claiming the government had “functioned better” since the ex-Prime Minister’s aide left Whitehall.

The health minister hit back at a series of bombshell claims by Mr Cummings when he testified to MPs about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Cummings had accused Mr Hancock of lying, being incompetent and claiming the cabinet minister had had to be fired several times when he was grilled last month.

But Mr Hancock rejected the allegations, saying it was “saying” that Mr Cummings MPs from the selected health and science committees had not provided any documentary evidence to substantiate his claims.

The health minister said he had “no idea” why Mr Cummings has such a scathing view of him.

He insisted that last year he was aware that the Vote Leave maverick wanted him fired but that he had always had the “healthy backing” of Mr Johnson.

Matt Hancock

Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings

Matt Hancock urged Dominic Cummings today as he claimed the government had ‘functioned better’ since the ex-Prime Minister’s aide left Whitehall

Mr Cummings maintained his fiercest criticism of Mr Hancock when he addressed the joint session of the committees at the end of May.

He attacked the health minister over shortcomings around the government’s policies for care homes, the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and his public promise of a testing target for the coronavirus.

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and chair of the Health Select Committee, said earlier this week that Mr Cummings had not yet submitted written evidence to substantiate the claims he made.

Mr Hancock said this morning he believed that was “saying” and that he had acted “honestly and with integrity” during the pandemic.

He said, “Well, it’s telling that there’s no proof yet, but I think there’s a reason for it, and that’s because I got out of bed every morning during this whole morning with the idea and attitude that it’s My job is to do everything I could to save lives and get this country out of the pandemic,” he said.

“I approached that with a mission-driven determination to make it happen. I’ve tried to do that with an approach of honesty and integrity and answering questions in public and private as best I can.’

Asked about the origin of his dispute with Mr Cummings, Mr Hancock replied, “I have no idea. I have worked directly with the Prime Minister from the start and, of course, with his assistants and his team. I have no idea.’

Mr Cummings told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Johnson to fire Mr Hancock in 2020.

The Health Secretary said he knew Mr Cummings wanted him to be fired, and told the committees: ‘Yes, because he informed the papers at the time.

“Or someone informed the papers, I now know better who it was.”

Mr Cummings, pictured leaving number 10 in November last year, told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Johnson to fire Mr Hancock.

Mr Cummings, pictured leaving number 10 in November last year, told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Johnson to fire Mr Hancock.

Mr Cummings, pictured leaving number 10 in November last year, told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Johnson to fire Mr Hancock.

When asked if he had objected to that, Mr Hancock replied: ‘Yes, of course and I had the healthy support of the Prime Minister the whole time.’

Mr Cummings left government in November last year after losing an internal power struggle at number 10.

Mr Hancock told MPs that things improved after Mr Cummings left Whitehall.

“I think the best thing to say about this, and this will be confirmed by many people in the government, the best thing to say is that the government has been functioning better in the last six months,” he said.

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