Matt Hancock continued to face intense pressure over his job this week as ministers came to his defence following the blistering attack by Dominic Cummings earlier this week.
As speculation continued over allegations that Hancock had lied to MPs and the public over the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng defended the Health Secretary.
Asked on Times Radio whether Hancock should remain in his role, Kwarteng said: "Absolutely, as as a colleague, as I’ve said a number of times on this programme, there hasn’t been anyone in government that’s been more focused on saving lives, protecting the NHS.
"We’ve put in £92 billion into the NHS during the pandemic, and Matt has been very much at the centre of it."
Also appearing on Sky News on Friday, Kwarteng stressed the "difficult situation" Hancock was in while tackling the pandemic.
Asked whether it was incorrect for the health secretary to say the "protective ring" had been thrown around care homes, he said: "I think what Matt stressed very carefully yesterday was that he was absolutely focused, right from the start of the pandemic, on saving people’s lives.
"He was in a difficult situation as the health secretary, in a pandemic, the like of which we hadn’t seen for 100 years. He was under huge pressure.
"And as a cabinet colleague, I know that he worked really hard and very few people – if anyone – worked as hard as he did and he was very committed to saving lives.
"Now, he said what he said, I fully believe him but we’ll have an inquiry and that will iron out all these facts."
Watch: Matt Hancock says 'we worked as hard as we could to protect care homes'
Hancock has been under pressure since the Boris Johnson's former chief adviser Cummings claimed that he repeatedly lied during the coronavirus pandemic and should have been sacked as health secretary.
Giving evidence to MPs on Wednesday about the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cummings said Hancock should have been fired for "at least 15 to 20 things", and that the prime minister came close to sacking him.
Accusing Hancock of lying to his cabinet colleagues, he said: "Like in much of the government system, there were many brilliant people at relatively junior and middle levels who were terribly let down by senior leadership."
Following the accusations, Hancock denied any wrongdoing in the Commons, saying: "These unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true. I have been straight with people in public and in private throughout."
Support for the health secretary from his cabinet colleague Kwarteng comes as a Times poll revealed that more people think he should resign than stay in his post.
A YouGov poll for the newspaper suggested that 36% of people thought Hancock should resign following allegations by Cummings earlier this week, while just 31% said he should stay in his role.
A third said they didn't know, the newspaper reported.
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