LABOUR leader Keir Starmer has blasted Boris Johnson for not sacking Matt Hancock after footage of his romantic clinch with a senior aide in his office was published by The Sun.
The Health Secretary quit today amid mounting pressure from colleagues over images of him kissing and cuddling Gina Coladangelo in a clear breach of coronavirus restrictions.
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Mr Hancock resigned today, less than 48 hours after video footage was published by The Sun which shows of him kissing aide Ms Coladangelo.
She is also reportedly leaving her position on the board of the Department of Health.
Former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will replace Hancock as Health Secretary, Downing Street has announced.
Mr 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".
It comes as…
- Matt Hancock announced he was resigning almost 48 hours after his affair with his aide was exposed
- The Health Secretary told his wife he was leaving her as the affair was revealed
- Gina Coladangelo has left her position on the Department of Health board after the affair with Hancock
- Read Matt Hancock's resignation letter in full
- Boris Johnson told Hancock 'you should be proud of what you've achieved' as he accepted his resignation
- Sajid Javid will be the new Health Secretary
But Sir Kier, who led political reactions to the sensational resignation, asked why he was not sacked and allowed instead to resign.
He tweeted: “Matt Hancock is right to resign.
“But Boris Johnson should have sacked him.'
Hancock finally fell on his sword admitting he had "let down" the millions who had made painful personal sacrifices during the pandemic.
Support for the minister had been dwindling after it emerged he told his wife he was leaving her on Thursday shortly after he learned that his affair with married Coladangelo was about to be exposed.
Martha Hancock had no idea her husband was having an affair until he broke the news and announced that their marriage was over, reports the Times.
Observers were quick to point out that he does not specifically mention his wife in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister.
He wrote: "I am writing to resign as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We have worked so hard as a country to fight the pandemic.
"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.
"I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. 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.”
But Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey also condemned Mr Hancock time in office on Twitter, writing: “Matt Hancock's legacy as Health Secretary will be one of cronyism and failure.
“And the fact that Boris Johnson thought Hancock could just carry on regardless brings the Prime Minister's judgement into question once again.”
Matt Hancock’s resignation letter in full
I am writing to resign as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We have worked so hard as a country to fight the pandemic. 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.
I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. 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.
The NHS is the best gift a nation has ever given itself, and the dedication and courage of the NHS staff and the ceaseless work of the officials in the Department is something we should all be proud of.
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, so we stand on the brink of a return to normality.
The reforms we have started in the health system will ensure it continues to provide even better care for people in years to come.
We are building a better NHS which makes smarter use of technology and data, forming a new UK Health Security Agency, delivering positive changes to mental health care and will fix the problems in social care once and for all.
Many times I stood at the podium in Downing Street and thanked the team – my own team, the NHS, the volunteers, the Armed Services, our pharmacists, GPs, the pharmaceutical industry and the whole British publish who have made such sacrifices to help others. Those thanks are heartfelt and sincere so I must resign.
It has been the honour of my life to serve in your Cabinet as Secretary of State and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.
I will of course continue to support you in whatever way I can from the back benches, and I would like to thank you for your unwavering support, your leadership and your optimism, particularly as we worked together to overcome this awful disease.
Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford — ever keen to shoe-horn in the issue of a separation poll —tweeted: "Massive failure of leadership by @BorisJohnson Hancock should have been sacked. A fish rots from its head.
“So does this UK Government.
"In Scotland of course we will face a choice on our future. We can say goodbye to the chaos and failure of UK leadership and take a step forward."
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