Matt Hancock goads Dominic Cummings as he claims Government ‘operated better’ after he left and the PM gave the Health Secretary his ‘wholesome support’ throughout the Covid crisis despite aide demanding he be sacked
- Matt Hancock today hit back at bombshell claims made by Dominic Cummings
- Health Secretary said the Government ‘operated better’ after PM’s ex-aide left
- Said he had PM’s ‘wholesome support’ despite ex-aide demanding he be sacked
The Health Secretary hit back at a series of bombshell claims made by Mr Cummings as he gave evidence to MPs on the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Cummings had accused Mr Hancock of lying, being incompetent and claimed the Cabinet minister should have been fired on multiple occasions when he was grilled last month.
But Mr Hancock dismissed the claims and said it was ‘telling’ that Mr Cummings had not provided MPs on the health and science select committees with written evidence to back up his allegations.
The Health Secretary said he had ‘no idea’ why Mr Cummings holds such a withering view of him.
He insisted he was aware at the time last year that the Vote Leave maverick wanted him to be sacked but that he had always enjoyed the ‘wholesome support’ of Mr Johnson.
Matt Hancock today goaded Dominic Cummings as he claimed the Government had ‘operated better’ since the PM’s ex-aide left Whitehall
Mr Cummings saved his fiercest criticism for Mr Hancock when he addressed the joint session of the committees at the end of May.
He attacked the Health Secretary over failings around the Government’s care homes policy, personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and his public pledge on a coronavirus testing target.
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and chairman of the Health Select Committee, said earlier this week that Mr Cummings was yet to submit written evidence to support the claims he made.
Mr Hancock said this morning he believed that was ‘telling’ and that he had acted with ‘honesty and integrity’ throughout the pandemic.
He said: ‘Well, it is telling that no evidence has been provided yet but there is a reason for that I think which is that throughout this I have got out of bed every morning with the view and the attitude that 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 tried to do that with an approach of honesty and integrity and critically answering questions both in public and in private to the best of my ability.’
Asked what the origins were for his dispute with Mr Cummings, Mr Hancock replied: ‘I have no idea. I worked directly with the Prime Minister from the start of this and of course I worked with his aides and his team as well. I have no idea.’
Mr Cummings told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Mr Johnson to sack Mr Hancock in 2020.
The Health Secretary said he was aware that Mr Cummings wanted him to be fired, telling the committees: ‘Yes, because he briefed the newspapers at the time.
‘Or somebody briefed the newspapers, I now have a better idea who it was.’
Mr Cummings, pictured leaving Number 10 in November last year, told MPs last month that he had repeatedly urged Mr Johnson to sack Mr Hancock
Asked if he had raised objections to that, Mr Hancock said: ‘Yes, of course and I had the Prime Minister’s wholesome support all the way through.’
Mr Cummings left the Government in November last year after losing an internal Number 10 power struggle.
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 corroborated by lots of people in Government, the best thing to say, is that Government has operated better in the past six months,’ he said.