Boris Johnson in ‘tricky position’ after Cummings text onslaught – ‘Raises questions’

Matt Hancock shrugs as he’s asked about Cummings’ allegations

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The former chief adviser to Downing Street yesterday shared private messages exchanged with the Prime Minister which showed Mr Johnson calling the health Secretary, Matt Hancock, “hopeless”. The messages have sparked a series of questions over Boris Johnson’s leadership and management of his colleagues.

Speaking on BBC Newsnight Steve Richards, host of Rock’n’roll politics said the Prime Minister’s predicament is “not easy or straightforward”.

“It raises many questions about Boris Johnson as a manager of his colleagues,” he said.

“One of his ex-colleagues is leaking these texts, the most senior adviser that he chose to be there at a pivotal moment and he clearly can’t disown them.

“He’s in a tricky position. It’s not easy or straightforward.”

One text message allegedly sent in March last year, shows Mr Johnson describe Matt Hancock’s handling of Covid testing as “totally *** hopeless.”

Dominic Cummings, who was kicked out of No10 last November published screenshots of the text messages together with a blog post condemning the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

Mr Cummings text message leak follows his string of allegations during a seven-hour evidence session before a Commons committee three weeks ago.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson’s refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WhatsApp messages.

Mr Richards continued: “Managing people and understanding how you manage them is an art of leadership.

“Not the only art but an important one. I don’t think he’s that interested in understanding people.

“I think he’s fascinated by legends like Churchill and Shakespeare and his Greek heroes – but people, individuals, less so.”

Several MPs have mocked Mr Cummings for his latest attack on the Government claiming that the text messages are not evidence as he claimed they were but simply screenshots of private messages made in difficult times.

Andrew Bowie, a Conservative backbencher, tweeted: “Cummings said he had evidence. All I see are messages between two ­supposed friends and colleagues in a clearly difficult and exasperating time for all in Government.

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“If that’s the smoking gun, I’m afraid he’s fired a blank.”

Mr Richards added that the allegations surrounding Matt Hancock were “interesting” as they are about the health secretary’s “competence”.

He said: “Quite often Prime Ministers indicate loathing, disdain or disapproval of colleagues but it’s part of a much wider ideological battle going on.

“This is about whether he [Matt Hancock] was just not up to it.”

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