Boris Johnson ‘cut Matt Hancock out of No.10 meetings after the Covid care home fiasco’ – and pair’s relationship became ‘really bad’ as death toll soared, says source
- Prime Ministers doubts said to have grown after patients sent to care homes
- Source said Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock’s relationship soured
- Relationship became ‘really bad’ as coronavirus death toll soared, source said
- Damning allegations follow Wednesday’s withering attack on Mr Hancock
The crisis for Matt Hancock deepened last night after it was claimed Boris Johnson had so lost confidence in the under-fire Health Secretary he was cut out of No 10 meetings last year.
The Prime Minister’s doubts were said to have grown after hospital patients were sent to care homes without first being tested for Covid in the early weeks of the pandemic – with disastrous results.
A source said the pair’s relationship became ‘really bad’ as the coronavirus death toll soared.
The damning allegations follow Wednesday’s withering attack on Mr Hancock by Dominic Cummings.
Damning allegations follow Wednesday’s withering attack on Mr Hancock by Dominic Cummings (pictured)
The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser told MPs that claims the Government had protected care homes were ‘complete nonsense’ and that ‘tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die’ as a result of the mistakes made.
Last night, the source claimed Mr Johnson would deliberately exclude Mr Hancock from some meetings with advisers such as NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
‘It got to the point where the PM had to check every claim he made to check it was accurate,’ the source said.
‘There were situations when he was cut out of meetings so the PM could get a proper account of what was happening. He would not be invited.
‘Sometimes when he would turn up anyway. He would just rock up and the PM would do this eye roll. When the care home stuff got really bad, the PM totally lost faith in Matt, but said he could not fire him because of how it would look to sack a health secretary in the middle of a pandemic. There were certainly conversations had about firing him, multiple conversations.
Last night, the source claimed Mr Johnson (pictured) would deliberately exclude Mr Hancock from some meetings with advisers such as NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty
‘The problem is he is the sort of person to say day is night. He would not answer straight questions and would be evasive. It is like nailing jelly to a wall.’ However, a source close to Mr Hancock said it was ‘emphatically untrue’ that he had been cut out of briefings.
And Cabinet ministers flocked to the Health Secretary’s defence as he came under sustained pressure from the social care industry over the decision to move untested hospital patients into care homes.
The head of the UK’s largest charity care home provider said the move had been like ‘putting a live explosive in a box of tinder’.
Sam Monaghan, chief executive of MHA, told Times Radio: ‘Obviously you had the pressure from the NHS, which we quite understood. But there’s no way that you can take people into care homes who aren’t tested. Care home residents were seen as somehow an inevitable casualty of this.’
Mr Hancock told a Downing Street briefing on Thursday that it was not possible to test everyone because of a lack of capacity at that time.
Yesterday Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stressed the ‘difficult’ task Mr Hancock has faced while tackling the pandemic.
Cabinet ministers flocked to the Health Secretary’s defence as he came under sustained pressure from the social care industry over the decision to move untested hospital patients into care homes. Pictured, Mr Cummings
‘I think what Matt stressed very carefully yesterday was that he was absolutely focused, right from the start of the pandemic, on saving people’s lives,’ he told Sky News.
‘He was in a difficult situation as the Health Secretary, in a pandemic, the like of which we hadn’t seen for 100 years. He was under huge pressure.
‘And as a Cabinet colleague, I know that he worked really hard and very few people, if anyone, worked as hard as he did and he was very committed to saving lives.
‘Now he said what he said, I fully believe him but we’ll have an inquiry and that will iron out all these facts.’
Asked later whether Mr Hancock should keep his job, Mr Kwarteng replied: ‘Absolutely… there hasn’t been anyone in Government that’s been more focused on saving lives, protecting the NHS.’
An ally of the Health Secretary said: ‘Matt completely rejects the claims made by Dom around honesty, including in relation to testing. Sadly, Dom made building the testing capacity we needed more difficult.’
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