Boris Johnson described Matt Hancock as “totally desperate” during the early stages of the pandemic, concerned about the health secretary’s promises about testing, text messages posted by Dominic Cummings revealed.
Writing in SubstackThe former chief assistant to the prime minister published a large number of texts and documents from Cobra’s emergency meetings that he said would combat what he called “lies” from Downing Street and the health secretary about the initial handling of the pandemic.
Cummings had been asked to turn over documents to a select committee to investigate the pandemic, but missed the committee’s deadline before Hancock gave his testimony last week.
In his post, Cummings said:
Johnson considered “removing Hancock and putting [Michael] Keep going “.
No strategy for the total lockdown was modeled until March 14, and it published documents predicting 250,000 deaths in the first wave.
Johnson told “incoherent stories and jokes” during emergency meetings and declined to ask uncomfortable questions posed by officials.
Johnson intends to resign after the next election to earn more money.
Jeremy Hunt, who co-chairs the committee where Cummings and Hancock testified, tweeted that he was skeptical that documents published by Cummings proved that Hancock had lied.
He said the messages “show the prime minister’s utter frustration … but they don’t prove that no one ‘lied.’
Downing Street declined to comment on Cummings’ claims, while also declining to deny the veracity of the screenshots or to reject the specific claims. “I do not plan to go into the details of what has been released,” Johnson’s spokesman said. When asked if the images in the prime minister’s messages were genuine, he said: “Our approach is not to examine those specific images, but to meet the public’s priorities.”
When stations approached the door and asked if he was “desperate,” Hancock replied, “I don’t think so.”
On his blog, Cummings said that Hancock had come up with a “new version of reality” that he had been responsible for driving increased testing capacity and that the health secretary had been following the abandoned strategy of herd immunity. single peak until March 16.
“Tests, like vaccines, were withdrawn from their control in May due to their incompetence and dishonesty,” Cummings wrote in Substack.
He said Hancock told No. 10 that the PPE supply was “under control” in the week of March 23, which Cummings said was a false guarantee and meant weeks were wasted that could have been used to stock up on equipment. .
“If the number 10 is willing to lie so deeply and widely about such vital questions of life and death last year, neither Covid nor any other crucial matters of war and peace can be trusted now,” he wrote .
“Hancock continues to have direct responsibility for things like managing variants and nursing homes. Having such a secretary of state in a key role is a guaranteed disaster. It is urgent for public safety that they evict him ”.
He said Johnson had been “encouraging ministers to give false accounts to parliament” and that the public inquiry would not hold the prime minister sufficiently accountable. He said Johnson intended to resign two years after the next election to “make money” and leave politics.
“So we live with chronic dysfunction for another five years or some force intervenes,” he wrote.
Cummings said he had been hesitating about posting private WhatsApp messages, but Hancock had challenged him on the select committee to provide evidence and suggested his account was fake.
In text messages posted on the blog, Cummings said Hancock had said at the March 24 morning meeting that there would be 10,000 tests a day on March 30 and 100,000 a day within a month.
On March 26, the day Johnson tested positive for Covid, Cummings texted the prime minister saying that Hancock’s testing plans were in chaos and that the health secretary would not meet his 10,000 commitment. tests.
According to the image on Cummings blog, Johnson wrote: “Totally fucking desperate.”
The prime minister repeated his opinion on Hancock’s performance in several other messages, according to Cummings.
Cummings said that when he returned to work on April 13, 2020 after his own Covid illness and his trips to Durham and Barnard Castle, it became clear that Hancock’s promise that people would be tested before being transferred from hospitals nursing homes had not been implemented, and that “there was still no plan to do so.”
A similar “nightmare” was also unfolding with the fan purchase, according to Cummings. He said a health department official told him they had been rejecting the machines because prices were going up. Attaching a WhatsApp allegedly from Johnson, he said the prime minister pointed an accusing finger at Hancock, saying he “has been useless.”
In another series of WhatsApp messages posted by Cummings, Johnson apparently told his assistant on April 27 that the PPE acquisition was a disaster, adding: “I can’t think of anything other than taking Hancock off and putting Gove on.” .
Cummings said he told Johnson on May 3, “I think we are negligently killing the most vulnerable who we are supposed to protect and I am extremely concerned about that,” because the evidence was not yet properly distributed to nursing homes. . He said the prime minister agreed that “Hancock’s failures and dishonesty made him unsuitable for his job,” but refused to take any action.
Even in early May, Cummings said, the government had yet to adopt a “war mentality” and when the prime minister presided over important meetings, Johnson rambled on and told jokes.
“As soon as things get ‘a little embarrassing’ [he] He does the whole ‘let’s unplug it’ trick before yelling ‘forward to victory’, lifting his thumb and pulling him out of the room before anyone can disagree. “
In addition to Johnson’s text messages, Cummings also released Cobra documents from early March that advocated herd immunity by September to avoid a second spike in the winter and more pressure on the NHS.
The documents showed that there was no detailed blueprint for a complete “stay-at-home” lockdown strategy and suggested that there would be 250,000 people dead after the “optimal single-peak strategy,” with herd immunity by September.
Cummings said he told Johnson on March 14, 2020 that more than 250,000 would die. “I said the public would march down Downing Street and lynch him,” Cummings wrote.
He posted makeshift blackboard plans that were shown to the prime minister on March 14, urging a change to plan B, a lockdown strategy, as well as mass testing and increasing the capacity of the NHS. Cummings said it was the first time a lockdown scenario had been seriously considered. The board included the phrase “who did we not save?”
Cummings said it was an acknowledgment that there had already been “terrible mistakes and many would die” and said he was forcing people to consider who the NHS should prioritize if they were overwhelmed, “for example prioritizing mothers of young children. “.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism