Entangled in a history of extramarital affair, the British Minister of Health Matt Hancock announced his resignation on Saturday evening. Friday, The Sun published, on the front page, an image taken from a surveillance camera where we saw the minister, married and father of three children, kissing Gina Coladangelo, a long-time friend whose discreet hiring had already been controversial. Double snag: the scene takes place in his office on May 6, at a time when braces were banned in the UK.
“I understand the enormous sacrifices you have made all during this pandemic and those of us who make (health) rules in the country must apply them. That’s why I have to resign ”, he explains, pale and in a crumpled polo shirt, in a video posted on Twitter.
At first, Hancock had apologized on Friday, accepted by Boris Johnson. “The subject is closed”, then assured a spokesperson for Downing Street. A position “Untenable” according to opposition Labor Party chairman Anneliese Dodds. “He set the rules. He admits to having broken them. He must go”, she reacted after the release of the press release by Matt Hancock, targeted by other embarrassing accusations for a minister at the heart of government action in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 128,000 in the United Kingdom.
At a parliamentary hearing in May, ex-adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, accused Matt Hancock of having “minds” repeatedly and judged that he should have been “fired”. In mid-June, he claimed, with a screenshot in support, that Boris Johnson had called Mr Hancock “Fucking sucker” in its management of the pandemic.
A precedent during confinement
The appointment to the ministry of Gina Coladangelo, a lobbyist Matt Hancock has known from college and who currently heads the communications of a chain of shops founded by her husband, had not been declared before being revealed by the press. A Labor spokesperson said the government should say whether the minister broke any rules and whether there have been any “conflicts of interest” in the appointment of its advisor.
“Ministers, like everyone else, have the right to privacy, added this Labor spokesperson. However, when taxpayer dollars are at stake or jobs are offered to close friends who have a personal relationship with a minister, this needs to be considered. The government needs to be open and transparent about whether there are any conflicts of interest or breaches of the rules. ”
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Sky News Thursday that any appointment must follow a process “Incredibly rigorous” and that there was no “No shortcut”, refusing to comment further on a case “Entirely personal”.
Before this case, an influential government scientific adviser, Neil Ferguson, had resigned in May 2020 after receiving at his home a woman, presented as his mistress, during the first confinement, imposed two months earlier.
In 2004, Boris Johnson, then an MP and married to lawyer Marina Wheeler, was kicked out of the Conservative Party leadership after lying about an affair he was having with journalist Petronella Wyatt.