British Health Secretary Hancock resigned after kiss photos
After being photographed kissing having an affair, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock apologized. For breaking the Corona rules, not with his wife. Now the public pressure became too great.
Dhe UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has stumbled upon a suspected affair with a close associate. On Saturday, he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the tabloid “Sun” published pictures showing the married Hancock and consultant Gina Coladangelo kissing deeply in an office of the Ministry of Health – a clear violation of corona contact restrictions. According to the newspaper, a surveillance camera recorded May 6th. So they came about eleven days before the lockdown easing came into force, which allowed hugs and other physical contact between people from two households again.
The new health minister is Sajid Javid, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Johnson’s government until his resignation in February 2020.
The government owes it to the people “who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have disappointed them,” wrote Hancock in his resignation letter to Johnson. “And those of us who have made these rules have to abide by them and so I have to resign.” The last thing he wanted is that his private life distracted from the goal of leading the country out of the pandemic, wrote Hancock in his resignation. He also apologized again for breaking the rules and also to his family. He now also has to look after his children.
Johnson said he regretted Hancock’s withdrawal. But he could leave office proud of what he had achieved – “not only in terms of dealing with the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 hit us.” although calls for his release were loud from many sides.
Jonathan Ashworth, health spokesman for the opposition Labor Party, said Hancock’s resignation was correct. But he wonders why Johnson didn’t have the courage to fire him. Instead, the head of government initially declared the matter to be over. Some ruling Conservative MPs had also joined demands for Hancock to leave. After all, he did not do what he always preached during the pandemic.
Further questions for the UK government
Even after Hancock’s resignation, however, the government now has to ask itself questions about the circumstances surrounding the termination of Coladangelo. She is a friend of the previous head of department from their time together at Oxford University. She joined the Ministry of Health last year, where she was initially employed as an unpaid consultant, and since this year she has been working as an independent director with a salary of around 15,000 pounds (around 17,000 euros) per year.
Coladangelo’s appeal is likely to be grist to the mill of critics who see Johnson’s government as a “chumocracy”, ie a comradeship in which external special advisers and contractors are brought into the civil service without the usual checks. Under Hancock, the Ministry of Health also often had to put up with the accusation of distributing lucrative orders for protective equipment and other important medical goods to people from the private sphere and neglecting procurement regulations. Hancock defended himself with the argument that at the height of the Corona crisis he was driven by the urgent need for essential equipment.
Hancock has also been under pressure for weeks after Johnson’s former top advisor Dominic Cummings accused him of messing up crisis management in the pandemic. Hancock “should have been fired” for the alleged lies and blunders, Cummings said at a MP hearing. The former government adviser also made a WhatsApp message public in which Johnson called his previous health minister, using a curse word, a “totally hopeless” case.
Hancock is not alone in his behavior
The 42-year-old Hancock is not the first member of the government accused of violating the corona restrictions that have been imposed on the rest of the population to contain viruses. In the spring of 2020, Cummings made headlines by driving with his wife and child from London to his parents’ house in Durham, hundreds of kilometers away in north-east England, after his corona infection. This had hardly any consequences for the government advisor at the time, which left many with the impression that different rules of the game apply to the political elite than to ordinary people. Cummings finally resigned from his post in November amid a power struggle at 10 Downing Street.