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Claims that PM’s senior adviser says Tories don’t care’ about NHS are ‘wide of the mark’

Allies say comments from 2017 conference have been taken out of context

Conservative party supporters have rebuffed claims that Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new senior adviser, has claimed that Tory MPs do not care about the NHS or poorer people.

At a conference in 2017, Cummings stated that Tory MPs “largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS. And the public has kind of cottoned on to that.”

Ian Lavery, the chair of the Labour party, said it was a “staggering admission from the Prime Minister’s right-hand man”.

“As Dominic Cummings says himself, the Conservatives don’t care about anything apart from looking after their rich friends – whether that means selling off our NHS to American corporations in pursuit of a Trump trade deal, or giving tax cuts to big businesses while cutting public services. We need a general election and a Labour government to protect our health service from the likes of Boris Johnson,” Lavery said.

According to the Guardian, Cummings said Johnson and Michael Gove, the co-leaders of the Vote Leave campaign, had recognised the dangers of being seen to go back on their pledge to give £350m a week to the NHS after Brexit.

He said the pair realised they needed to keep their promise on the NHS “not only from the self-preservation point of view but also from the political smart point of view; they understood the power of actually delivering”.

The adviser said Johnson was 99.9% committed to implementing the pledge when it was discussed after the EU referendum result.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has not repeated that promise but he has reportedly ordered that the delivery of cash for the NHS promised by Theresa May be speeded up so the frontline sees the benefit. An additional £4bn is due to be given to the NHS over the course of this financial year.

Friends of Cummings told the newspaper: “Dom was clear that he thinks the British public care most about leaving the EU and want more money for the NHS. And with this Prime Minister, that’s exactly what the public will get.”