MATT HANCOCK is said to be on ‘borrowed time’ following a furious clash with Boris Johnson over his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Downing Street reportedly confronted the health secretary and blamed his department for a series of failures, including shortages of personal protective equipment and missed targets on testing.
Mr Hancock was then said to have hit back, saying: ‘Give me a break’, according to The Mail On Sunday.
A government source was quoted as saying: ‘The feeling is that Hancock is on borrowed time. He has fallen out with the most powerful figures in the government, from the prime minister down.
‘Nothing will change immediately. But, once we have beaten this thing, expect him to be moved.’
The claims came as housing minister Robert Jenrick confirmed that Britain had to send coronavirus tests to the US to be processed following a ‘problem’ at one of its laboratories.
The Sunday Telegraph reported 50,000 samples were sent on chartered flights from Stansted Airport, Essex, to America last week. Asked about the report during an interview on Sky News, Mr Jenrick said: ‘There was an issue with one of the labs and we put in place our contingency plan, which was to take some of the tests to the United States for the tests to be processed.
‘That was exactly in line with the detailed plans the Department for Health had made in advance.’
After being criticised for moving too slowly on mass testing compared with other countries, such as Germany, Britain ramped up its programme for tests.
However, since hitting its target of 100,000 a day by April 30, it has struggled to maintain that level.
The latest figures from the Department of Health show there have been been 1,728,443 tests, including 96,878 on May 8.
The government said sending swabs abroad was one of the contingencies to deal with so-called teething problems in a rapidly expanded testing system.
It is understood patients will be told the results ‘as quickly as possible’.