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Labour MPs turn on Keir Starmer for missing 'easy win' over PM after Cummings' latest bombshell

Keir Starmer was roasted by his own backbenchers today after he failed to ask Boris Johnson a single question about Dominic Cummings' WhatsApp revelations at Prime Minister's Questions.

Former No10 aide Mr Cummings dropped a bombshell blog at shortly after 11.30am, claiming that Mr Johnson had branded Health Secretary Matt Hancock 'f***ing hopeless' as the first wave of Covid raged last year.

But despite having almost half an hour to digest the claims of disorder at the heart of the Cabinet he made no mention of the revelations when he faced the PM at noon.

Instead he used his questions to attack Mr Johnson over whether it was too slow block arrivals from India, and whether the porous UK border had helped contribute to the surge in the delta/Indian variant. 

Instead it was left to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford to throw the first question at Mr Johnson, although Labour later issued a statement from junior health minister Justin Madders.

The Labour benches were bewildered that Sir Keir did not seize on the revelations. 

'I thought he was going to. And then he just didn't. It would have been an easy win,' one senior MP told MailOnline.

'No-one could really understand why.

'There is a lot of unrest about him on our benches. He's got trouble and things aren't getting better when he misses easy chances.'

Former No10 aide Mr Cummings dropped a bombshell blog at shortly after 11.30am, claiming that Mr Johnson had branded Health Secretary Matt Hancock 'f***ing hopeless' as the first wave of Covid raged last year.

But despite having almost half an hour to digest the claims of disorder at the heart of the Cabinet Sir Keir made no mention of the revelations when he faced the PM at noon.

It was left to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford to throw the first question at Mr Johnson, although Labour later issued a statement from junior health minister Justin Madders.

In an exchange with Boris Johnson from March 27 last year Dominic Cummings criticised the Health Secretary over the failure to ramp up testing

On April 27, Mr Johnson apparently messaged Mr Cummings to say that PPE was a 'disaster'

Downing Street declined to deny that the messages were genuine this afternoon. 'We are not going to get into engaging with individual allegations, so we will leave it there,' the PM's press secretary said. 

Mr  Hancock insisted he 'doesn't think' he is 'f****** hopeless' after Boris Johnson's devastating private verdict on his performance was revealed.

The Health Secretary tried to shrug off a slew of extraordinary messages. As he drove to the Commons in an official car today for a debate on delaying 'Freedom Day', a journalists shouted: 'Are you useless, Mr Hancock?'

'I don't think so,' he replied. 

In one exchange from March 27 last year, Mr Cummings criticised the Health Secretary over the failure to ramp up testing. Mr Johnson replied: 'Totally f****** hopeless.' He then tried to call his senior aide three times without managing to get through.

Another from the same day saw Mr Cummings complain that the Department of Health had been turning down ventilators because 'the price has been marked up'. Mr Johnson said: 'It's Hancock. He has been hopeless.'  

On April 27, Mr Johnson apparently messaged Mr Cummings to say that PPE was a 'disaster', suggesting that Michael Gove should take charge instead.

'I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on.' 

Mr Cummings dropped the incendiary revelations in a lengthy post on the Substack blogging platform just minutes before PMQs.

It included vicious passages condemning Mr Johnson for 'telling rambling stories and jokes' instead of chairing crucial meetings properly, and a claim that the PM is intending to quit in order to 'make money' rather than serving a full term if he wins the next election.  

But at PMQs the Labour leader repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister to explain the UK's high rates of the Delta variant first identified in India, which has been blamed for the four-week delay on easing restrictions.

Mr Cummings levelled his latest allegations in a lengthy substack blog post today minutes before the weekly PMQs

Mr Cummings gave a brutal assessment of the performance of the government during an exchange of messages in April 2020

Sir Keir also suggested the amber travel list, which includes France and Spain, should be scrapped and replaced by an approved list and a banned list of countries, in a bid to 'save the British summer'.

But Mr Johnson defended the UK's approach and claimed his Government acted swiftly to ban travel with India.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Keir said: 'We all want these restrictions to be over, for our economy to be open, for businesses to thrive - but the Prime Minister's indecision at the borders has blown it.'

Mr Johnson could be heard shouting 'rubbish' before Sir Keir added: 'And the problem with everything the Prime Minister says today, both at the despatch box and what he's muttered, is that we've heard it all before so many times.

'Last March, he said we could turn the tide in 12 weeks, remember that? Then he said it'd all be over by Christmas. Then we were told June 21 would be 'freedom day'. Now we're told July 19 is 'terminus day'.

'The British people don't expect miracles, but they do expect basic competence and honesty, and when it comes to care homes, protective equipment or borders, we see the same pattern from this Prime Minister - too slow, too indecisive, over-promising, under-delivering.

'After all these failures and mistakes, why should anyone believe the Prime Minister now?'

Mr Johnson replied: 'Why should anybody believe the Leader of the Opposition when he can't decide what he thinks one week to the next?

'He says he has a tough position on borders, actually he was attacking quarantine only recently and saying it was a blunt instrument that should be lessened.

'What the people of this country want to see is a Government getting on with the vaccine rollout and getting on with our cautious and irreversible road map to freedom.' 

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