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Matt Hancock says he doesn't think he's hopeless.

The Health Secretary was asked the unusual question through a car window, as he was driven to the House of Commons.

And it came after a cache of WhatsApps from the Prime Minister, almost exclusively about him, were published by former colleague-turned-arch enemy Dominic Cummings.

The ex-No10 aide released text exchanges with Boris Johnson, in which the PM described Mr Hancock as "totally f*****g useless", and mulled replacing him with Michael Gove.

Responding to a barked question through his open car window, asking if he was "hopeless", Mr Hancock said: "I don't think so."

Downing Street did not dispute the authenticity of the messages, or most of the claims made by Mr Johnson's former chief aide, but insisted the Prime Minister has full confidence in Mr Hancock.

The PM's spokesman did not deny the WhatsApp exchanges are genuine when asked by journalists and instead said: "Our focus is not examining those specific images but delivering on the public's priorities.

"I don't plan to get into the detail of what's been published."

Mr Hancock still has hope
(Image: Getty Images)

Asked if the Prime Minister called Mr Hancock hopeless, the spokesman said: "I'm not planning to engage with every allegation put forward, the Prime Minister worked very closely with the health and care secretary throughout and continues to do so."

Mr Cummings says he is releasing the messages to expose the actions and behaviour of senior Downing Street figures at crucial points in the early pandemic response – because, he says, their failures resulted in unnecessary deaths.

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In the newsletter he accuses Mr Hancock, Mr Johnson and others in No10 of "rewriting history" to shield themselves from blame for the deaths.

And he says next year's public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic will come too late – claiming Mr Johnson plans to quit as PM within a couple of years of the next election to "have fun and make money."