Unfit for office? 'I make no comment on that,' Boris Johnson says
May 28 2021
He insisted that "at every stage we have been governed by a determination to protect life" but acknowledged the situation in care homes had been "tragic".
He said "it wasn't possible" to test everyone being discharged from hospitals at the start of the outbreak.
Cummings accused Hancock of lying to the public and said he "should have been fired" for mistakes including testing failures that saw patients with the virus discharged from hospitals to nursing homes.
Earlier, Mr Hancock told MPs the "unsubstantiated allegations" from Dominic Cummings that he lied during the pandemic "are not true".
At one of his weekly Friday afternoon meetings for ministerial advisers, a disgruntled Mr Cummings told his audience: "I'll see half of you next week", - cited by one of those present as part of the "mental torture" he liked to inflict on those who answered directly to him.
Responding to Mr Cummings' assessment of the Prime Minister as unfit for the job, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "I don't think the Prime Minister has made good decisions in this pandemic. Nobody could doubt for one moment that the prime minister was doing anything other than acting with the best of motives with the information and the advice that was available to him". "What people want us to get on with is delivering the (reopening) road map and trying, cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most hard periods that I think anybody can remember", he told reporters on Thursday.
Cummings, who was at the heart of government until he was booted out in November, didn't hold back in his criticisms of his former colleagues during his marathon session in Parliament.
In his press conference he said the 100,000 target was important because it "really accelerated the availability of testing" to help address the care home issue.
Asked if Mr Johnson regretted hiring Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It is a matter of fact that the Prime Minister took on Dominic Cummings into that role, into a senior role in No 10".
The UK has recorded nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe, and experienced one of the world's deepest recessions in 2020 as three successive lockdowns hobbled the economy. Johnson has announced there will be a full inquiry into the government's handling of the crisis, but not until the spring of 2022.
Speaking about current plans to remove lockdown restrictions on June 21 - a fourth and final step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown - Johnson said that cases of the virus were increasing, including those of a variant first identified in India. It is spreading across the country and scientists expect it to become the dominant variant in Britain, but they say existing vaccines appear to work against it.
One of the most damning allegations from Cummings was that Hancock's statement that the government had thrown a "protective ring around" care homes at the start of the pandemic was nonsense, and that instead people had been sent back from hospital who had contracted the coronavirus.