'Gutless PM should have sacked him': MPs' anger after Hancock quits over kiss with aide

26 June 2021, 18:21 | Updated: 27 June 2021, 10:33

Tory MP hints that backbenchers played part in Hancock's resignation

By Daisy Stephens

Matt Hancock has resigned as health secretary following leaked footage of him kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo, who has also announced she is leaving her role in the Department of Health.

Mr Hancock has resigned from his post in a letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis," Mr Hancock wrote.

“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this.

Matt Hancock's resignation message

“I also need to be with my children at this time.

“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.”

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His letter went on: “We didn’t get every decision right but I know people understand how hard it is to deal with the unknown, making the difficult trade-offs between freedom, prosperity and health that we have faced.

“I am so proud that Britain avoided the catastrophe of an overwhelmed NHS and that through foresight and brilliant science we have led the world in the vaccination effort.”

He added that it was the “honour of his life” to serve the PM as secretary of state and that he would continue to support Boris Johnson from the back benches.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "sorry" to receive Matt Hancock's resignation as Health Secretary.

He said Mr Hancock "should leave office very proud of what you have achieved - not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us".

Mr Johnson added: "I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over."

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But the PM faced anger for not sacking Mr Hancock. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told LBC: “He’s done the right thing for himself, for the country, for the NHS.

“It shouldn’t have come to this. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson should have shown the guts, the spine, the judgement, to have sacked him.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also questioned why he wasn't sacked and was instead allowed to step down.

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Hancock has faced a difficult week, after leaked messages from the PM's ex-adviser Dominic Cummings claimed to show Boris Johnson calling him "f***ing hopeless".

But it was the leaked pictures of Mr Hancock engaging in a "clinch" in his office with one of his aides which proved to be the final nail in the political coffin.

Mr Hancock was pictured in his Whitehall Office kissing married aide Gina Coladangelo on May 6.

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Mr Hancock, 42, and lobbyist Ms Coladangelo, wife of the founder of Oliver Bonas, were caught on camera in a steamy embrace at his office last month in pictures obtained by The Sun.

Mr Hancock issued a statement on Friday: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances.

"I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family."