A love affair has cost the British Minister of Health Hancock the office. Prime Minister Johnson thus loses his main scapegoat in the corona pandemic.
Scandal Minister Matt Hancock is gone, but the pressure on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains high. The opposition criticized indignantly that the head of government did not fire Hancock, but initially even backed him.
For example, the parliamentary group leader of the Scottish SNP party, Ian Blackford, spoke of “massive leadership failure”. “The fish stinks from the head.” Labor Party’s Lucy Powell told Sky News that Johnson had “a very dangerous blind spot” on issues of integrity and conduct in public life.
Boris Johnson: “You can leave the office proud of what you have achieved”. (Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas / Reuters)
In fact, Johnson had quickly put the affair of the health minister, who was smooching, to an end. After the first apology from his confidante, the prime minister announced that the case was closed. When the resignation could no longer be averted because more and more MPs from Johnson’s Conservative Party demanded Hancock’s end, the prime minister expressly praised his partner: “You can leave the office proud of what you have achieved,” he said to the 42-year-old .
Matt Hancock is charged with failure
Sex, lies and a video: The affair of the married minister with a close colleague is the low point in Hancock’s almost three years in office. The tabloid “Sun” made the affair public on Friday, but Hancock had been fighting off new allegations for months. Sometimes an acquaintance – the owner of his local pub – received an order worth millions for the delivery of corona protective equipment, although he has no experience with it. Then again, Hancock sank billions of pounds into an unsuitable corona testing program.
Johnson’s ex-advisor Dominic Cummings claimed that Hancock lied several times during the pandemic and that the prime minister had criticized him in a short message as “completely hopeless” (original: fucking hopeless). “Matt Hancock’s legacy as Secretary of Health is one of nepotism and failure,” tweeted Liberal Democratic leader Edward Davey.
Hancock’s lover also vacates her post
But Hancock survived all of that, partly with luck – until now. Without the success of the vaccination program it would have been sawed off long ago, commented the Sunday Telegraph. The fact that he preached strict Corona rules and emphasized that he would not even hug his parents, but was now caught kissing his colleague deeply, was ultimately too much for his Conservative Party.
Sajid Javid takes over as Minister of Health after Matt Hancock. (Source: Mark Thomas / imago images)
Sajid Javid becomes British Minister of Health
The father of three children said in a video message from Saturday evening that he had broken the Corona distance rules and whoever set up the regulations had to adhere to them. Johnson appointed all-purpose weapon Sajid Javid as his successor, who had already held several cabinet positions and had resigned as finance minister in February 2020 in a dispute with the prime minister. Hancock’s lover, who also has three children, also resigned from her post.
“The last thing I want is for my private life to divert attention from the single-minded focus that is bringing us out of this crisis,” Hancock said. But the opposition does not want to let him escape that easily, they insistently demand an investigation. So it has to be clarified whether Hancock violated the regulations with the hiring of the 43-year-old – were the two already a couple when she signed the consultancy contract with an annual salary of around 17,500 euros from the state treasury, or did they only get closer afterwards?
Hancock was the face of the pandemic fight
But the pressure on Johnson will not decrease anytime soon. With Hancock, the prime minister has lost his scapegoat, Sky News commented. The 42-year-old was the face of the pandemic fight and often served as a lightning rod. Again and again he turned himself to the press, swarmed away critical topics and pointedly directed his gaze forward, praised the success of the vaccination campaign and the commitment of the nursing staff – also in his letter of resignation.
The Johnson administration will probably not shake off the impression of nepotism anytime soon. “This is a government of people who see politics less as an opportunity to serve their country and more as a game in which they can play regardless of the consequences,” commented the Sunday newspaper “The Observer”. “Hancock’s position was untenable. But his resignation will not change the fundamental nature of our government as long as Boris Johnson remains Prime Minister.”
In addition: How did the pictures of the kissing couple, which were obviously made by a surveillance camera in the ministerial office, get to the “Sun”? “It shows that there is a security flaw somewhere and that the Ministry needs to investigate,” the Sunday Times quoted a source in security circles as saying. Maybe even government meetings and internal communication are at risk. The Ministry of Health launched an internal investigation.