Matt Hancock press conference: When will he give statement? Is he going to resign?
Dominic Cummings says Matt Hancock ‘should have been fired’
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Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, made a series of deeply damning claims about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. Speaking to the Commons Health, and Science and Technology committees for seven hours, Mr Cummings took aim at Matt Hancock repeatedly, saying he “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things”.
When will Matt Hancock speak?
Mr Hancock will make a statement and then answer questions to the House of Commons at 10.30am on Thursday, before giving a press conference from Downing Street at 5pm.
The statement from the Commons is expected to deal with the Cummings claims, while the press briefing may see the health secretary focusing on Covid only.
On Wednesday, Mr Hancock said he hadn’t watched Mr Cumming’s evidence in full, “and instead I’ve been dealing with getting the vaccination rollout going, especially to over-30s, and saving lives”.
He said he would make a statement in the Commons on Thursday when he would “have more to say”.
But he is expected to get a grilling from MPs, with Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth tabling urgent questions.
And Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has called for his resignation.
She told the BBC that Mr Hancock had “intentionally” misled colleagues and “thousands” in care homes had died as a result.
Ms Rayner told BBC Breakfast: “No minister who lies to the public, especially not with the consequences that we have had, should stay in their post.”
She accused the health secretary of “intentionally lying and misleading” – which, she said, had “led to thousands of deaths in our care homes”.
Ms Rayner also accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of having a “cavalier attitude” towards people in care homes, adding that “the government should have protected them [but] left them exposed to a deadly virus”.
A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: “We absolutely reject Mr Cummings’ claims about the health secretary.”
What did Cummings say about Hancock?
Mr Cummings said the health secretary “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet Room and publicly”.
On care homes, Mr Cummings said: “Hancock told us in the Cabinet Room that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes… We only subsequently found out that that hadn’t happened.
“Now the government rhetoric was ‘We put a shield around care homes’ and ‘Blah, blah, blah’ – it was complete nonsense.”
Mr Cummings also attacked Mr Hancock for displaying “criminal, disgraceful behaviour” as he held back coronavirus tests and meddled in efforts to build the mass testing system.
He said he set a “stupid” target of offering 100,000 Covid tests a day by the end of April last year, saying it had “hugely disrupted” efforts to “properly” establish a testing system.
Mr Cummings accused Mr Hancock of using the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical adviser Chris Whitty as a “shield” for government failings at Downing Street news conferences.
Mr Cummings said he and the UK’s then most senior civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill recommended to the prime minister that Mr Hancock be sacked in April 2020, but Mr Johnson didn’t do so as he felt Mr Hancock could be a good scapegoat in future public enquiries.
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