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If lockdown returns in the autumn, Hancock may find that Cummings’ words come back to haunt him

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19.06.2021

When Theresa May entered Downing Street in 2016 in the wake of the EU referendum result that prompted David Cameron to resign, her team wanted to purge the Osbornites.

But rather than just sacking them, they played on their vanity. They were offered a demotion with the assumption that they would walk rather than accept the humiliation.

May was talked out of simply giving Matt Hancock the axe as Cabinet Office minister and paymaster general by the then cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. Instead, he was made an offer he would surely refuse – a demotion to being a junior minister in the culture department.

But rather than reject it and flounce out, Hancock grabbed the opportunity with both hands. It paid off – two years later he was promoted to Culture Secretary which he was reported to put down at the time to two years of being forced to “take shit”.

It’s a story of particular relevance this week as questions are asked – once again – as to how long Hancock can hang on as Health Secretary. Dominic Cummings set the cat among the pigeons this week when he fired another missile in Hancock’s direction.

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After previously telling MPs........

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