There was no mention of Dominic Cummings or Matt Hancock in exchanges between the two leaders (Picture: Parliament.tv)
Keir Starmer failed to ask the Prime Minister about messages in which he appeared to call his own health secretary ‘f***ing hopeless.’
Despite Boris Johnson’s former advisor Dominic Cummings releasing his WhatsApp conversations just before Prime Ministers Questions began in the commons, the topic was not discussed by the two leaders.
The Labour leader has been described by some commentators as ‘missing an open goal’ in his failure to ask about the reports.
Instead Sir Keir used his questions to grill Mr Johnson on why he didn’t close the UK’s borders sooner amid the spread of the Delta Covid variant.
The SNP’s Ian Blackford did raise the topic of the bombshell messages but did not get a response from the Prime Minister.
Just before PMQs began, Mr Cummings released a message from March 3 last year, in which he highlighted the US’s ramping up of testing capacity and criticised Mr Hancock for saying he was ‘sceptical’ about meeting a target.
A reply from a contact labelled ‘Boris Johnson’ in Mr Cummings’ phone responded: ‘Totally f****** hopeless.’
In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Mr Cummings published another private message about the struggles to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
Boris Johnson apparently called his own health secretary ‘hopeless’ (Picture: Parliament.tv)
‘It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless,’ Mr Johnson apparently replied on March 27 last year.
Mr Cummings posted the messages on Twitter at 11.37am and they were soon being widely reported.
But by noon Sir Keir apparently hadn’t seen them, or had chosen to ignore them, and pressed on with questions about why the UK now has the worst rates of Covid in Europe.
Mr Blackford had seen the messages and used his allotted time in the chamber to ask about their validity.
Keir Starmer ‘missed an open goal’ by not mentioning the messages, critics said (Picture: Parliament.tv)
Mr Johnson and Sir Keir clashed over the spread of the Delta variant (Picture: Parliament.tv)
He said: ‘As we entered the chamber, we see what is reported to be WhatsApp communication between the Prime Minister and Dominic Cummings – perhaps the Prime Minister will clarify whether or not these are genuine and whether derogatory comments he expressed on his health secretary are valid or not.’
But Mr Johnson did not answer the SNP leader, choosing instead to focus on the details of the trade deal the UK has agreed with Australia.
Labour later released a statement from Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to the revelations.
He said: ‘With this evidence that even the PM thinks Hancock is useless, why in the worst pandemic in our history has he left him in charge?
‘Hancock and Johnson need to respond to these latest revelations and immediately start the public inquiry into their handling of the pandemic.’
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