Jeremy Hunt accused of plotting against Prime Minister

Jeremy Hunt accused of plotting against the Prime Minister after mounting an attack on delays to Government’s coronavirus track and trace strategy

  • Allies now preparing to ‘attack lines’ on Jeremy Hunt’s time as Health Secretary
  • Mr Hunt criticised delays to the track, test and isolate strategy
  • He attacked the discharging of infected patients from hospitals into care homes 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson’s allies have accused his former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt of plotting to destabilise his Premiership.

Now they are preparing ‘attack lines’ on his time as Health Secretary, in an attempt to neutralise his threat.

Downing Street has been watching suspiciously as Mr Hunt has mounted a sustained attack on the Government over the coronavirus crisis, criticising delays to the track, trace and isolate strategy.

He has also attacked the discharging of infected patients from hospitals into care homes. And last Wednesday, Mr Hunt – who earlier this year became chairman of the Commons health committee – grilled the Prime Minister during a televised parliamentary hearing on why it had taken until April to introduce a 100,000-a-day tests target.

Boris Johnson’s allies have accused his former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt (pictured) of plotting to destabilise his Premiership

No 10 aides noted that on the same day, Mr Hunt’s ally, Penny Mordaunt, accused Mr Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings of having ‘undermined public health messages’ with his journey to the North East during lockdown.

They have also observed what they describe as his ‘aggressive social media activity’, with Mr Hunt ‘liking’ messages critical of the Government.

Mr Johnson beat Mr Hunt comfortably in the final round of last summer’s Conservative Party leadership contest.

But with Mr Johnson’s poll ratings dented by the Cummings row, No 10 has grown more concerned about the threat posed by Mr Hunt.

Aides have drafted attack lines on his six years as Health Secretary – including a failure to properly prepare for a viral pandemic.

But with Mr Johnson’s poll ratings dented by the Cummings row, No 10 has grown more concerned about the threat posed by Mr Hunt

A source said: ‘Hunt’s approach is not even subtle. He sees himself as the King across the water’.

Another insider said: ‘It is rather ironic that Jeremy is recasting himself as some sort of pandemic planning expert when it will come to pass that in his tenure as Health Secretary over most of the last decade, the NHS did not do enough to prepare for this scenario.’

Mr Hunt was Health Secretary during the 2016 Exercise Cygnus pandemic rehearsal that found major failings in the UK’s plans. He retained the job for two years afterwards, and now senior Tories are pointing the finger of blame at him for not implementing the report’s recommendations swiftly enough.

After Mr Johnson entered No 10, Mr Hunt made it clear he would only accept a ‘top four’ post as Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary or Defence Secretary. Mr Johnson refused, angered by Mr Hunt’s aggressive campaign, which had included calling him a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates. 

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