Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock reject Cummings' claims of lies and incompetence

Grant Boone
May 28, 2021

Mr Johnson has previously denied making the comment, which Mr Cummings told MPs he heard from the Prime Minister in his Downing Street study.

Britain's health minister has defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic after a former top government aide alleged the government's botched response had led to tens of thousands of needless deaths.

Cummings also singled out Health Minister Matt Hancock for particular criticism, accusing him of having lied about the shortages of personal protective equipment and support for care homes.

Did tens of thousands of people die unnecessarily because of your action or inaction?

Mr Hancock said "the unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true". "I have been straight with people in public and in private throughout", he told legislators in the House of Commons. "Every day since I began working on the response to this pandemic last January, I've got up each morning and asked: 'What must I do to protect life?"

The former chief aide said Boris Johnson had initially dismissed Covid as a "scare story" and the United Kingdom had been too slow to lock down.

The health spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, Jonathan Ashworth, said the government had questions to answer, whether or not Mr Cummings' testimony was true.

Cummings said Hancock should have been fired over coronavirus failings and "criminal, disgraceful behaviour" on the testing target.

West slams Belarus over jet diversion, journalist arrest
Michel also said EU leaders will discuss what he called the "unprecedented incident" on Monday during a European Council meeting. Another exhausted passenger, speaking to reporters without giving her name, said Protasevich looked "super scared".

Mr Cummings - whose key role in the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union helped propel Brexit-backer Mr Johnson into the prime minister's post - said his former boss was "unfit for the job". "What people want us to get on with is delivering the (reopening) road map and trying, cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most hard periods that I think anybody can remember", he told reporters on Thursday.

Responding to Mr Cummings' claims about it being "nonsense" to say care homes were shielded, Mr Johnson said: "We did everything we could to protect the NHS and to protect care homes as well".

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Colchester hospital in Colchester, eastern England on May 27, 2021.

"What people want us to get on with is delivering the (reopening) road map and trying, cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most hard periods that I think anybody can remember".

Asked whether the rise in the Indian variant Johnson said he did not "see anything now in the data" to divert from the June 21 target for the next stage of exiting lockdown but "we may need to wait" for more data.

"You have to remember that we didn't have all of the facts at the time that the decisions were being taken".

"We're pretty satisfied that the stages, the steps, we've taken so far on the roadmap have been right".

With nearly 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth highest official COVID-19 toll, far higher than the government's initial worst-case estimates of 20,000.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER