Boris Johnson twice described health secretary Matt Hancock as “hopeless” during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dominic Cummings.
The prime minister’s former chief adviser continued his attack on his former employer on Wednesday, publishing screenshots of private WhatsApp messages he claimed were from Johnson.
In a blog post of more than 7,000 words, Cummings accused the government of spreading lies about its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and renewed his criticism of Hancock.
Downing Street did not dispute the authenticity of the messages but insisted the prime minister has full confidence in Mr Hancock.
Cummings claimed that in one WhatsApp exchange on 3 March last year, he criticised Hancock to Johnson over meeting testing capacity targets.
Cummings claimed Johnson replied: “Totally f****** hopeless.”
The former aide published another exchange from 27 March last year with Johnson about attempts to procure ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
The response, purportedly from Johnson, was: “It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless.”
Following Cummings’s new claims, Hancock was asked by a journalist if he was hopeless.
“I don’t think so,” said Hancock.
Cummings also claimed that Johnson shouts "forward to victory" and leaves meetings when things “get a bit embarrassing”.
It is only the latest attack from Cummings on Hancock - last month, the former aide told a select committee of MPs that he had told Johnson to sack the health secretary “15 to 20 times”.
Hancock said he had “no idea” why Cummings had a dispute with him and wanted him fired.
Asked on Wednesday if Johnson had called Hancock “hopeless”, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “I’m not planning to engage with every allegation put forward.
“The prime minister worked very closely with the health and care secretary throughout and continues to do so.”
Watch: Boris Johnson described Hancock as 'hopeless', says Cummings