'What about Dominic?' Moment Matt Hancock heckled over Cummings criticism during speech to MPs

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read

Watch: 'What about Dominic?' Moment Matt Hancock heckled over Cummings criticism

This is the moment health secretary Matt Hancock is heckled about Dominic Cummings’ stinging attack on his government department.

On Wednesday, Cummings – Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser – had told MPs on the Commons science and technology select committee that responsibility for the coronavirus vaccine rollout had to be taken away from Hancock’s Department of Health because it was a “smoking ruin”.

Hancock, making a statement in the House of Commons on Thursday, appeared to make a pointed response to Cummings as he reflected on the UK’s successful rollout of the jab.

He said the programme has been a success thanks to “team spirit”, before listing a number of leaders “who helped make it happen” including “my officials in the department”.

Matt Hancock reacting to the heckle about Dominic Cummings in the House of Commons on Thursday. (Parliamentlive.tv)
Matt Hancock reacting to the heckle about Dominic Cummings in the House of Commons on Thursday. (Parliamentlive.tv)

As he finished the list of people, a voice on the opposition benches, believed to be Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, could be heard heckling: “What about Dominic?”

A grinning Hancock raised his eyebrows three times.

Downing Street has defended the Department of Health’s response to the pandemic, with Johnson’s official spokesman saying it has been “central” to the vaccine rollout.

Dominic Cummings giving speaking at the Commons Science and Technology Committee which is taking evidence on a new UK research funding agency. Picture date: Wednesday March 17, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Dominic Cummings at the House of Commons committee on Wednesday in which he labelled Matt Hancock's Department of Health a 'smoking ruin'. (PA)

Cummings’ comments on Wednesday turned the spotlight towards Hancock’s department after he said: “It is not coincidental that we had to take it [the vaccine rollout] out of the Department of Health. We had to have it authorised very directly by the prime minister.

“In spring 2020 you had a situation where the Department of Health was just a smoking ruin in terms of procurement and PPE [personal protective equipment] and all of that. You had serious problems with the funding bureaucracy for therapeutics."

In further pointed remarks, Cummings said MPs should take a “very hard look” at the government’s mistakes.

It comes amid growing calls for an inquiry into Downing Street’s handling of the pandemic, in which 125,831 people have died and 451,360 people have been hospitalised so far.

On Thursday, Labour again called for an inquiry to be “set up now”, with shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz saying: “If we’re going to open up after June 21st, we need to know the lessons learned.”

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Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said holding an inquiry now would be the “worst thing” as it would “interrupt the enormous work that is being done in dealing with the pandemic”.

“The time for that will be when the pandemic has ended,” he said.

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