Health secretary dismisses ‘expression in middle of challenging and frustrating period’
Matt Hancock has again sought to downplay Boris Johnson‘s claim that he was “f****** hopeless” at the start of the pandemic, insisting the remark was made during a “challenging and frustrating period” and adding: “It doesn’t matter.”
Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former top adviser, last week released WhatsApp messages from spring 2020 in which Mr Johnson apparently made disparaging remarks about the health secretary.
Pressed on his feelings when Mr Cummings published the screenshot displaying how the prime minister had spoken about him, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I work with the PM every single day, and we have a very good, close, working relationship.
“Frankly it was ancient history and of course there’s pressures in the middle of a pandemic, but what matters is what you get done.
“It was an expression of frustration at the situation, which was we didn’t have enough testing capacity and I was there driving up the testing capacity, and you know what, I delivered on that goal.”
Reminded of the prime minister’s “f****** hopeless” message, he added: “It doesn’t matter – it was an expression in the middle of a challenging and frustrating period where we managed eventually to deliver on the testing capacity that we needed that we didn’t have at the start.
“What matters in public life and why I’m in public life is to deliver improvements that really matter and really last and working with the prime minister to protect lives and get this country out of this pandemic … for instance with a vaccination programme that is probably going faster than almost any other country in the world.
“That’s something I’m very proud of and he and I were working on that back then, not everybody was involved in that project, but the prime minister and I have been working on that since last January. That’s just one example.”