Dominic Cummings grilled by committee over 'discretion'
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Salma Shah, a former Government adviser, told BBC Newsnight: “I think people have moved on, at least for the short term because of vaccination, because everybody wants to get on with their lives now. Most people are looking forward to things opening up, and if there is an issue around how that happens… I think that’s going to be a much bigger problem.”
During a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, Mr Cummings took aim at Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He described telling the Prime Minister that Mr Hancock should be fired over pandemic failings.
Mr Cummings claimed there were around 20 reasons Mr Hancock should have been dismissed.
The former adviser also claimed that then Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill – the country’s top civil servant – echoed his advice.
He told MPs: “I think the Secretary of State for Health should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly.
“There’s no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect.
“I think the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people.
“I said repeatedly to the Prime Minister that he should be fired, so did the Cabinet Secretary, so did many other senior people.”
Downing Street did not deny that the Prime Minister considered firing Mr Hancock in April last year.
However, it stressed Mr Johnson has confidence in the Health Secretary now.
Mr Hancock’s spokesman said: “We absolutely reject Mr Cummings’ claims about the health secretary.
“The Health Secretary will continue to work closely with the Prime Minister to deliver the vaccine rollout, tackle the risks posed by variants and support the NHS and social care sector to recover from this pandemic.”
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On Wednesday, Mr Hancock said he did not watch all of Mr Cummings’ testimony to MPs because he was “dealing with getting the vaccination rollout going, especially to over 30s, and saving lives”.
He added: “I’ll be giving a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow [Thursday] and I’ll have more to say then.”
Mr Hancock is set to appear in the Commons at around 10.30am on Thursday to answer an urgent question tabled by Labour over the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
The Health Secretary is also expected to lead a COVID-19 press conference later in the day.
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