The justice secretary has criticised calling Matt Hancock “hopeless”. It comes after Dominic Cummings revealed Boris Johnson’s damning messages about the health secretary.
Robert Buckland said on 20 June that “to bandy around words like that” does “nobody any service at all”. And he insisted Hancock commands the government’s “full support”.
Cummings was the prime minister’s chief aide until he walked out of Downing Street in November. He revealed a series of WhatsApp messages between himself and Boris Johnson as he continued their war of words.
One exchange included Johnson describing Hancock as “totally fucking hopeless” while discussing testing early in the coronavirus pandemic. Buckland told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday:
[Hancock’s] been a most useful and dynamic Health Secretary who enjoys our full support.
Reminded that they were the prime minister’s words, Buckland said:
I’m not going to get into text messages or WhatsApp messages sent between people and then disclosed in a rather unfortunate way. I don’t believe that’s actually a reflection of the reality.
I’ve been working within Cabinet, within Government, throughout this crisis and I don’t detect any suggestion that somewhere there is anything but the fullest confidence of what Matt has been doing and what he continues to do energetically.
Meanwhile, John Bercow shared his assessment of Hancock after the former Commons speaker revealed he had switched allegiances to join the Labour Party. The former Tory MP told Phillips:
Well I think it would be fair for me to say that I would buy Matt at my valuation and sell him at his and realise a healthy profit in the process
Other people have struggled with the question. After being asked if Hancock is “hopeless”, NHS chief Simon Stevens smirked and then refused to answer:
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) June 17, 2021