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Video: Dominic Cummings text shows Boris Johnson calling Matt Hancock 'totally hopeless'

Dominic Cummings, former Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, giving evidence to a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees on the subject of Coronavirus: lessons learnt. Picture by Press Association
Sam Blewett, PA

Boris Johnson described British health secretary Matt Hancock as "hopeless" early in the coronavirus pandemic, according to a message published by former aide Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings, who has blamed Mr Hancock for failings during the Covid response, published a screenshot apparently showing a WhatsApp exchange between himself and the British prime minister.

On March 3 last year, the controversial former aide highlighted the US's ramping up of testing capacity and criticised Mr Hancock for saying he was "sceptical" about meeting a target.

Mr Johnson purportedly responded: "Totally f****** hopeless."

Screengrab from the blog of Boris Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings who has published a WhatsApp exchange in which the British prime minister appeared to describe Health Secretary Matt Hancock's performance as "totally f***ing hopeless". Picture by Dominic Cummings/PA Wire 

Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street in November during a bitter power struggle in No 10, has targeted much of his criticism since leaving at Mr Hancock.

In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Mr Cummings also published another private message about the struggles to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients.

"It's Hancock. He has been hopeless," a contact appearing to be Mr Johnson replied on March 27 last year.

In another message, on April 27 last year, the prime minister appeared to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) "a disaster" and alluded to diverting some responsibilities to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

"I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on," Mr Johnson apparently added.

The messages are Mr Cummings's first attempt to publish supporting evidence since his select committee appearance where he accused the Health Secretary of lying, failing on care homes and "criminal, disgraceful behaviour" on testing.

Mr Hancock has denied the Brexit campaigner's allegations and said last week it was "telling" that he was yet to provide the joint Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee with written evidence.

When he appeared before the same committee last week, Mr Hancock said he had seen no evidence to suggest any medics died because of a lack of PPE.

But Mr Cummings said in his blog post that the health secretary sought to blame NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Cabinet Office for a "PPE disaster" in April last year.

Mr Cummings alleged: "The lack of PPE killed NHS and care home staff in March-May."

He said the initial post shows that "No10/Hancock have repeatedly lied about the failures last year" and accused them of now trying to "rewrite history".

Mr Cummings accused the prime minister of now publicly supporting the "fiction" that he was in agreement with the health secretary throughout the pandemic.

But his former chief aide says that the "hopeless" messages show otherwise, as do his moves to hand responsibility for vaccines to Dame Kate Bingham, testing to Baroness Harding, and PPE to Lord Deighton.

The former aide published the details on Substack, a platform that allows people to charge for newsletters. He has said he plans to charge subscribers for insider information on subjects other than the pandemic.

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