Matt Hancock resigns as UK health secretary

Matt Hancock, the minister responsible for tackling Britain’s biggest post-war health crisis, resigned on Saturday night amid sharp criticism of his relationship with an adviser he put on the public payroll.

He will be replaced as health secretary by Sajid Javid, the former chancellor, who is making his comeback after his resignation in 2020 following a bitter power struggle.

Over the course of Saturday, support for Hancock waned, with Tory MPs saying his position had become untenable, while cabinet ministers refused to publicly support him.

Just after 6 p.m. Downing Street confirmed that Hancock had resigned. The minister admitted in his resignation letter that he had let people down by not following his own health guidelines.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared determined to retain Hancock on Friday, although the Health Secretary admitted he violated social distancing guidelines by kissing his advisor Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall office in May.

On Saturday evening, it was announced that Coladangelo had also stepped down as a non-executive director in the health department.

In his resignation letter, Hancock said: “We owe it to the people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we let them down like I did by breaking guidelines.”

He added: “The last thing I want is my privacy to distract from the purposeful goal that is getting us out of this crisis.”

Johnson quickly replaced Hancock with Javid, who resigned in 2020 after Dominic Cummings, the former Downing Street adviser, attempted to cut his wings by sacking all of the Chancellor’s political advisers.

Johnson didn’t expect Javid to drop out in the No.10 takeover and the two remained on good terms.

Cummings tweeted on Saturday night that he had “tricked” Johnson into sacking his chancellor so he could create a new economic team covering No.10 and No.11 Downing St.

“Saj = bog standard = headline hunt + failure = awful for the NHS,” he tweeted, saying the new health secretary was appointed by Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s wife.

Symonds worked for Javid, who joins Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel and Kwasi Kwarteng in an increasingly diverse high-profile squad.

Javid will take on the role just as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic, but with many health challenges ahead, including a huge NHS backlog.

Hancock, who is married, apologized to his family for putting them through the ordeal of seeing his relationship on all national headlines and said he wanted to spend time with his three children.

Senior Tories have said no new revelations about his conduct forced Hancock’s resignation, but Tory MPs have sharply criticized both in private and in public his initial decision to hang on to his post.

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, told the Eastern Daily Press: “I will not condone this behavior in any way and have told the government what I think in the strongest possible terms.” Esther McVey, a former minister, told GB News “if it had been me, I would have resigned”.

Johnson, in his response to Hancock’s resignation, suggested he could make a comeback at a later stage. “You should be extremely proud of your service,” he said. “I believe your contribution to the public service is far from over.

The fallout from Hancock’s relationship with his adviser, whom he appointed to a part-time £ 15,000 post as non-executive director of his department, threatened to dominate the political debate in a crucial week for Johnson.

The Tories are hoping to win the Labor seat from Batley and Spen in a parliamentary by-election on Thursday, but opinion polls have shown the public believed Hancock should step down.

Labor argued that Hancock’s conduct showed there was one rule for senior Tories and another for ordinary members of the public.

A senior Conservative Party official said: “It was inevitable. There was real anger in the party over the violation of Covid rules. ”

Social distancing guidelines against close contact with someone from another household were lifted two weeks after Hancock was pictured on CCTV in his own apartment building kissing Coladangelo, the channel’s communications director retailer Oliver Bonas.

One of Hancock’s fellow MPs said: ‘I was door-to-door on Saturday morning and two separate people came to me on the street to harangue me about Hancock. He had cut through.

Hancock was soon to introduce legislation to significantly strengthen the Secretary of State’s powers over the NHS, reversing key aspects of a controversial 2012 reshuffle of the service that gave NHS England operational independence.

Under the proposed legislation, the Health Secretary would be given “increased managerial powers” over the NHS, including a veto over certain appointments of senior officials in the health services and the power to intervene earlier on. decisions to close or downgrade a hospital, for example.

Hancock and Downing Street had wanted to tighten their grip on the service, to ensure that the general election promises to increase the number of nurses by 50,000 by the end of the legislature and offer 50 million appointments. you additional GPs.

Hancock was also due to play a role in the decision who would become the next chief executive of NHS England when Sir Simon Stevens resigns at the end of next month.

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