On Saturday, amid continued media scrutiny and a public backlash, Hancock resigned. On Monday, during a mosey round Batley and Spen, Johnson claimed to press: “When I saw the story on Friday, we had a new secretary of state for health in on Saturday”. He insisted that “that’s about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic”. This was despite him dismissing these concerns on Friday, remember.
And Cummings was having none of it.
Cummings also claimed that Johnson and Hancock used WhatsApp to discuss coronavirus procurement with a “Tory donor network” and Downing Street officials:
This is nonsense. PM's PPS knows it. Cabinet Secretary knows it. I can prove it with screenshots from my phone. E.g… https://t.co/paZzj7KZLI
And muddying the already murky waters of British politics further, Johnson’s spokesman later denied that his comments suggested that Hancock had been sacked. “No, the former health secretary resigned,” he said to The Times, adding that Johnson had not asked Hancock to resign. “No, the prime minister accepted his resignation, he agreed it was the right decision.”
However, asked why it was the right decision on Saturday when the prime minister had considered the matter closed on Friday, the spokesman said: “They discussed it further and the prime minister agreed with the former health secretary that it was right for him to offer his resignation.”
Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “Boris Johnson is trying to rewrite history because he didn’t have the guts to sack Matt Hancock. A fish rots from the head down, and by failing to sack the former health secretary, Johnson proved he doesn’t have the leadership qualities or judgment required to be prime minister.”
Cummings has been a vocal critic of both Johnson and Hancock as of late. Last week, while news of the affair rippled through the nation, he took the opportunity to post a blog slamming Hancock’s handling of the crisis further, and said Britain “gets Hancocked every week”.
And he hasn’t been much kinder to the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, who - in his view - will be “awful for the NHS”.