Matt Hancock should've been fired for at least 15 things and it's 'crackers' Boris Johnson is PM, blasts Cummings

BORIS Johnson should've fired Matt Hancock for "lying" to the public and falling "disastrously below the standards the country has a right to expect" in handling the pandemic, Dominic Cummings blasted today.

The ex No 10 chief adviser claimed he and other "senior people" in Government repeatedly urged the PM to give the Health Secretary the boot over "at least 15-20 things" he did wrong.

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In an explosive appearance before MPs this morning he laid into Mr Hancock in extraordinarily personal fashion and accused him of botching the early response to the spread of the virus.

Mr Cummings said at the start of the outbreak last year the Department of Health was a "smoking ruin" and had "no plan" for how to shield the vulnerable.

He also claimed it initially had been "turning down ventilators because the price of being marked up" and its system for buying vital PPE equipment like masks and gloves was "just completely hopeless".

And he fumed: "The Secretary of State for Health should've been fired for at least 15-20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet Room and publicly."

Asked if people in Government should be worried about facing corporate manslaughter charges, he replied: "There's no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect.

"I think that the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people.

"I said repeatedly to the Prime Minister that he should be fired. So did the Cabinet Secretary, so did many other senior people.

"There is no doubt that many senior people were just terrible."

Challenged on his explosive claims that Mr Hancock had lied to fellow ministers and the public, he said there were "numerous examples" of him doing so and promised to provide written evidence.

Mr Cummings said: "In the summer he said that everybody who needed treatment got the treatment they required.

"He knew that was a lie because he’d been briefed by the Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Medical Officer about the first peak, and we were told explicitly people did not get the treatment they deserved. Many people were left to die in horrific circumstances."

Pressed further, he added: "In mid-April, just before the PM and I were diagnosed with having Covid ourselves, the Secretary of State told us in the Cabinet room everything is fine on PPE, we’ve got it all covered.

"When I came back almost the first meeting I had in the Cabinet room was about the disaster over PPE and how we were actually completely short and hospitals all over the country were running out.

"The Secretary of State said in that meeting this is the fault of [NHS chief executive] Simon Stevens, this is the fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it’s not my fault they’ve blocked approvals on all sorts of things.

"I said to the Cabinet Secretary please investigate this to find out if this is true.

"The Cabinet Secretary came back to me and said it’s completely untrue, I have lost confidence in the Secretary of State’s honesty in these meetings.

"The Cabinet Secretary said that to me and the Cabinet Secretary said that to the PM."

Mr Cummings even said responsibility for testing had to be "taken away from Hancock" as the Health Secretary was obsessed with "stupid" targets.

He blasted: "The Secretary of State had made, while the PM was on his deathbed, this pledge to do 100,000 tests by the end of April.

"This was really an incredibly stupid thing to do. It shouldn't just be 100,000, we should be heading for a million tests a day.

"When I came back I started getting calls in No 10 saying Hancock is interfering with the building of the test and trace system.

"Because he's telling everybody what to do to maximise his chances of hitting his stupid target by the end of the month.

"We had Hancock calling them all saying down tools on this, do this, par tests back so that I can hit my target.

"He wanted to go on TV and say 'look at me'. It was criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm.

"In my opinion he should have been fired for that thing alone."

During his hearing this morning Mr Cummings also repeatedly apologised for his own part in the botched early response to the pandemic, and admitted he should've called for a lockdown much earlier.

He said it was "crackers" that Boris Johnson as PM, and he as his most senior adviser, were in charge of leading the country through such a crisis.

Mr Cummings said: "There's so many thousands and thousands of wonderful people in this country who could provide better leadership than either of those two."

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