Matt Hancock: From student journalist to disgraced Health Secretary

Matt Hancock: From student journalist to disgraced Health Secretary

Matt Hancock (PA)

After leading the nation through the pandemic as the UK government’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has resigned in the aftermath of his affair with an aide that broke his own coronavirus rules.

The senior minister, who had held three cabinet positions before reaching his 40th birthday, announced his resignation in a video and formal letter to the Prime Minister.

He said: “I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, you have made.

“And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”

Appointed Health Secretary in 2018 after spending 18 months in the culture brief, he has been a prominent figure for the British government during its handling of the coronavirus pandemic until his resignation on Saturday.

Following a series of uncomfortable headlines in recent weeks, Mr Hancock faced pressure to stand down after pictures emerged depicting the married minister appearing to kiss his adviser Gina Coladangelo.

The CCTV images published in The Sun were taken on May 6 when guidance on social distancing were still in place, with hugging between people from different households recommended against.

This came after the Prime Minister’s former aide Dominic Cummings shared text messages this month in which Boris Johnson is said to have called the Health Secretary – who caught coronavirus last year – “totally f***ing useless”.

Mr Cummings accused the senior minister of lying to the Prime Minister over promises to protect those in care homes during the first wave of Covid-19 infections by testing new residents before being admitted.

Mr Hancock has dismissed claims he lied and called Mr Johnson’s “hopeless” jibe “ancient history”.

During the first face-to-face meeting this week between the British Queen and Mr Johnson since the pandemic started, the monarch called Mr Hancock a “poor man” following his time in the limelight since the crisis kicked off in March 2020.

Mr Hancock, who in 2018 became the only MP in British politics to launch his own app, took only eight years to rise from West Suffolk MP to Health Secretary.

The former has made a big play of his varied life before entering politics.

Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo (left) outside BBC Broadcasting House in London (Yui Mok/PA)

The Oxford and Cambridge educated father-of-three previously worked as an economist at the Bank of England and as chief of staff to George Osborne when he was shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, before becoming an MP.

Mr Hancock, who is said to have met Ms Coladangelo at university, has been married to his wife Martha for 15 years and they have three children together.

Ms Coladangelo, the lobbyist and aide who Mr Hancock is claimed to have had an affair with, told a BBC Radio 4 profile on the politician that the pair met at the Oxford University student radio station, Oxygen FM, where she was a news reader and he a sports reporter.

The marketing and communications director at Oliver Bonas, a British retailer founded by her husband Oliver Tress, told the BBC about how Mr Hancock had “told a white lie” to his radio news desk after failing to make it to cover an international rugby match.

She said: “He actually overslept and hot-footed it to the train but didn’t make it to Twickenham in time from Oxford, so had to get off the train at Reading, find a pub, watch the first half in a pub and then go to a phone box outside and report in.

Boris Johnson is claimed to have called Matt Hancock ‘totally f***ing useless’ in messages to former aide Dominic Cummings (Jonathan Buckmaster/Daily Express)

“So he told a white lie, pretended he was at Twickenham watching the rugby when in fact he was in a pub in Reading.”

The Cheshire-raised politician first attended cabinet after being appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office in 2015 by then prime minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron’s successor Theresa May later promoted him to the role of culture secretary.

The 42-year-old initially threw his hat into the ring to replace Mrs May in No 10 during the 2019 Conservative Party leadership contest, but withdrew from the leadership race part way through and was quick to throw his weight behind Mr Johnson.

He was among the handful of ministers to retain his brief when Mr Johnson took power in July 2019, making him one of the most prominent ministers when coronavirus rocked Britain eight months later.

Mr Hancock said he is looking forward to “supporting the Government and the Prime Minister from the back benches to make sure that we can get out of this pandemic” in his resignation video.

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