Matt Hancock given UN role less than four months after Covid breach scandal

12 October 2021, 19:08 | Updated: 13 October 2021, 09:42

Matt Hancock after completing the London Marathon earlier this month
Matt Hancock after completing the London Marathon earlier this month. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Matt Hancock has been given a frontline position less than four months after the coronavirus scandal which forced him to resign as health secretary.

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Mr Hancock announced tonight he will be a special representative for the United Nations (UN).

He will be working with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, focusing on economic recovery from the pandemic and sustainable development.

Mr Hancock shared his appointment letter which praised his “global leadership” and “advocacy reach”.

As health secretary, Mr Hancock was one of the faces of the UK’s response to the pandemic.

However, he resigned in June after The Sun published pictures of him kissing his colleague, Gina Coladangelo, in his government office on 6 May.

This was a breach of social distancing guidelines that were in place at that time.

The West Suffolk MP returned to the backbenches and initially kept a low profile, but has recently become more visible.

Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo in June, before his resignation as health secretary
Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo in June, before his resignation as health secretary. Picture: Getty

He returned to the House of Commons chamber last month and took part in the London Marathon earlier this month.

Last week, Mr Hancock also shared pictures of him taking part in a discussion panel addressing post-Covid growth in African countries.

In his UN appointment letter, dated 14 September, Vera Songwe, under-secretary general of the UN, said the pandemic has "threatened to unravel the social and economic progress that has been achieved over the past decade".

Ms Songwe praised Mr Hancock's "success on the UK's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the acceleration of vaccines that has led the UK move faster toward economic recovery".

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In a response dated Thursday last week, Mr Hancock said he was "honoured" to accept the appointment.

Fellow Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said tonight it is a "fascinating and important appointment" while former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson wished Mr Hancock "all success in a vitally important new role".

On the other hand, Labour MP Jess Phillips simply tweeted: "Fail up."

A major report by MPs, published today, found serious errors and delays by the government in its response to Covid-19 amounted to one of the biggest public health failures in history.