Cabinet turns its back on him: Matt Hancock had to go because Tories ‘refused to break sweat in defence of his sheer hypocrisy’… while his estranged wife steps out in public as rumours swirl about length of his affair with aide
- Boris Johnson was forced to accept Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s resignation
- Cabinet members warned they were unwilling to support Hancock in public
- No Cabinet ministers voiced support for Mr Hancock on social media
- Tory MPs were deluged with complaints from constituents about his conduct
Boris Johnson was forced to accept Matt Hancock’s resignation after fellow Cabinet ministers warned they were unwilling to support him in public.
Tory sources said the Prime Minister, who fought to keep the Health Secretary in his job, was warned by party whips that support had ‘drained away’ after he admitted breaking his own lockdown rules over his affair with a married aide.
No Cabinet ministers voiced support for Mr Hancock on social media, even after the PM backed him to stay on Friday and said he ‘considered the matter closed’.
A Cabinet source told the Mail: ‘To be fair to the Prime Minister, his automatic reflex is to try to save people rather than throwing them to the wolves every time there’s a Twitter storm. But I think in this case it was obvious on Friday that this couldn’t end any other way.
‘What’s p****d people off is Matt’s sheer hypocrisy. He’s set the rules and not followed them. He’s put his mistress on the payroll.
‘And when Professor Ferguson was in a similar position, he tried to set the police on him.
Tory sources said the Prime Minister, who fought to keep the Health Secretary in his job, was warned by party whips that support had ‘drained away’ after he admitted breaking his own lockdown rules over his affair with a married aide
‘That’s why no-one was prepared to break sweat to save him. His credibility was shot – everyone could see that apart from the Prime Minister. And no-one wanted to risk their own credibility by backing him.’
Tory MPs also started to turn against Mr Hancock over the weekend as they were deluged with complaints from constituents about his conduct.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said the PM had made a misjudgment in initially trying to keep him in post.
‘Loyalty is normally a virtue,’ he said. ‘But it became clear within hours that Matt Hancock was losing the confidence of the public.
‘A lot of colleagues raised that with the Chief Whip and No 10 on Saturday morning. The moment he lost public confidence, how could he stand up and say people have to adhere to these rules when he had broken them himself?’ Mr Hancock quit on Saturday night, around 40 hours after CCTV pictures emerged of him in a passionate embrace in his office with glamourous married aide Gina Coladangelo.
In his resignation letter, which followed private talks in No 10 with the PM, he said he did not want to ‘distract attention’ from efforts to fight Covid.
In reply, Mr Johnson said he could be ‘very proud’ of his record during the pandemic.
No 10 sources said the Prime Minister had only agreed ‘reluctantly’ to accept his resignation. It came after fellow Cabinet ministers warned they were unwilling to support him in public
No 10 sources said the Prime Minister had only agreed ‘reluctantly’ to accept his resignation. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday said Mr Hancock had ‘made the right judgment’ in quitting.
In a sign of the anger his conduct has caused, Mr Lewis was challenged by Sky News host Trevor Phillips over the PM’s fight to keep him in his job.
Mr Phillips said hundreds of people had been prevented from attending his daughter Sushila’s funeral because of Covid laws signed off by Mr Hancock. He told Mr Lewis: ‘The pictures that we saw (of Mr Hancock) were of an encounter on May 6. On May 11 my family buried my daughter who had died not of Covid but during the lockdown.
‘Three hundred of our family and friends turned up online but most of them were not allowed to be at the graveside even though it was in the open air because of the rule of 30, because of the instruction by Mr Hancock.
‘Now the next time one of you tells me what to do in my private life, explain to me why I shouldn’t just tell you where to get off?’
Startled, Mr Lewis responded: ‘I accept and understand the frustration, even the anger, people have. It’s also why what Matt did was wrong.
In Hancock’s (pictured) resignation letter, which followed private talks in No 10 with the PM, he said he did not want to ‘distract attention’ from efforts to fight Covid. In reply, Mr Johnson said he could be ‘very proud’ of his record during the pandemic
‘He acknowledged that, why he apologised immediately and acknowledged what he did was wrong, and it’s also why he’s taken the decision that his position was untenable.’
Victims’ families said the PM’s failure to sack Mr Hancock was ‘a slap in the face’ to those whose lives been in turmoil during the pandemic.
Diane Mayhew, of the campaign group Rights for Residents, said: ‘Boris Johnson is now showing weak leadership once again.
‘His refusal to sack Matt Hancock for breaching social distancing rules effectively condones such behaviour.
‘How can they expect the public to sacrifice their freedoms and follow the guidance when even those who set it are unable to abide by it?’ Craig Bicknell, who was ordered to stop comforting his mother at his father’s funeral, described the response to the scandal as a ‘farce and embarrassment’ for the Government.
Martyn Brunt, who did not sit face-to face with his 91-year-old mother Sylvia for a year due to Covid restrictions, said Mr Johnson’s reaction had left him exasperated.
He told BBC 5 Live: ‘It’s difficult not to be able to hold her hand, to give her a hug but I do it because it’s the right thing to do for her.
‘So to see that those rules only apply to me and everybody but the person setting the rules was a slap in the face. I think he should have been sacked.’
The Tory, his aide and 12 months of rumour: Shamed couple lying low as ex-health chief’s Covid-hit, estranged wife steps out
By Neil Sears for the Daily Mail
Questions were being asked last night as to how long Matt Hancock’s affair with a top aide was going on before they were caught out.
As friends said the pair were a ‘love match’ and possibly looking at moving in together, Westminster sources said rumours have abounded about their closeness for more than a year.
Mr Hancock finally resigned from his position as Health Secretary on Saturday, more than a day after CCTV showed him in a passionate clinch with glamorous aide Gina Coladangelo.
It then emerged the 42-year-old had abandoned his wife as well as his job.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s wife Martha, a 44-year-old osteopath, was pictured outside her North London home on Sunday
And Miss Coladangelo, 43, has left her homeware tycoon husband, Oliver Tress.
Yesterday the pair were lying low, staying out of the public eye following the pictures that showed them kissing and groping against the door in Mr Hancock’s ministerial office.
But betrayed wife Martha Hancock, 44, an osteopath of aristocratic descent, emerged from her home in north London to walk the dog.
Mrs Hancock is said to be suffering from Long Covid, thought to have been caught from her husband in March last year. She maintained a dignified silence – but was still wearing her wedding ring.
Friends insisted the extramarital affair only began in May, the same month that Mr Hancock and Miss Coladangelo were caught in the incriminating footage.
But others said the pair, who have known each other since university days when they met at Oxford, have raised eyebrows for some time.
Miss Coladangelo was confronted as long ago as 2019 by ministerial aides who asked outright if there was any romance between the pair, something the twice-married mother-of-three flatly denied.
It then emerged the 42-year-old had abandoned his wife (pictured left Matt Hancock and wife Martha) as well as his job and Gina Coladangelo, 43, has left her homeware tycoon husband, Oliver Tress (right)
It was thought Miss Coladangelo was taking refuge in a rental home on the south coast last night. It was unclear where Mr Hancock was, with no sign of him at either his marital home in London or constituency address in Suffolk.
‘He is in love with Gina,’ a close friend said. ‘It started recently, but is serious.’
Other sources said the ‘love match’ had featured intimate restaurant meals and a hotel stay during a summit.
Mr Hancock’s demise began late on Thursday afternoon. He had been in the House of Commons, defending his department’s controversial plans to share data on tens of millions of National Health Service patients with outside organisations.
After saying his piece and leaving, he received a call from The Sun newspaper at around 6pm, informing him that they had photos and video of him kissing his aide in his office, taken on May 6.
It was thought Miss Coladangelo was taking refuge in a rental home on the south coast last night. It was unclear where Mr Hancock was, with no sign of him at either his marital home in London or constituency address in Suffolk (Miss Coladangelo and Matt Hancock are pictured together in May)
After saying as little as possible to the journalist, he returned to the London residence he shares with wife Martha, when they are not at their home in his Suffolk constituency, and their three children.
Mr Hancock is understood to have told her that the story was set to appear, about the photographs it contained and that their marriage was over.
He then woke their youngest son, who is just eight-years-old, to tell him too that he was going.
Family friends said yesterday it was a bombshell from nowhere for Martha. She had believed their marriage had been ‘happy and stable’, and reportedly had no suspicions over her Facebook friend, whom she had also met while at Oxford.
The Hancock family had enjoyed Christmas parties with Miss Coladangelo and her husband, a joint founder of the Oliver Bonas retail chain.
Miss Coladangelo was seen on Thursday evening, shortly after the newspaper’s phone call, outside the £4million mansion she shares with her husband and children. He was reportedly helping her load her car with belongings.
She is said to be lying low at a house in West Sussex and – on Friday as the scandal gathered pace – to have been ‘cheery’. On that day, despite the devastating headlines and an instant storm of calls for Mr Hancock to resign, both he and Downing Street insisted they were standing firm.
By late morning, Mr Hancock had finally conceded he may have behaved wrongly, apologising for breaching social distancing rules – but he insisted that he was staying in the job.
He and Miss Coladangelo had come a long way since they met on Oxford student radio station Oxygen FM in the late ’90s. She was the star of the show, presenting a politics programme, with many male admirers – while Mr Hancock, according to his fellow volunteers, was a lowly sports reporter.
He and Miss Coladangelo had come a long way since they met on Oxford student radio station Oxygen FM in the late ’90s
Miss Coladangelo even told Radio 4 how when he was given a rare free ticket to commentate on a rugby match, he ended up oversleeping and failing to get to the stadium on time.
Instead, he watched the match on a pub television screen – but phoned his report in at half-time, pretending he had been at the game in person.
The lies and bluffing finally came to an end early on Saturday evening, when Mr Hancock visited the Prime Minister’s country residence Chequers then issued a video resigning his post. Mr Hancock said: ‘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.’
There were calls last night for Mr Hancock to be stripped of his £16,000 severance pay. The payment is standard to ministers in whatever circumstances they leave their role.
Labour housing spokesman Lucy Powell told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday that people would be ‘appalled to think that there’s going to be a severance payment to Matt Hancock in this circumstance’.
She added: ‘We will certainly be calling that out and asking the Prime Minister not to give him that.’
No more jokes, this remains a cruel betrayal
Commentary by Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail
It was hard not to laugh at all the jokes circulating on social media at Matt Hancock’s expense. ‘Hands – Face – Back to My Place’ was just one, mocking the endless stream of orders that came from the Secretary of State for Health – telling us what to do in our private lives when he was snogging a glamorous ‘aide’ in the office.
Like everyone I giggled at all the puns on the last four letters of his surname and enjoyed the comeuppance of a man I’ve always considered to be a second-rater promoted way above his ability. Just another politician caught with his pants down (I jeered to a friend) and how ridiculous.
But then I saw the newspaper pictures of Hancock’s wronged wife Martha – so pretty in her flowery dress and still wearing her wedding ring – and felt ashamed.
For there is nothing remotely amusing in this clichéd story of deceit and pain. Nothing to giggle at when Martha Hancock and Gina Coladangelo’s husband Oliver Tress have been publicly humiliated – betrayed by people they trusted.
Worst of all is the realisation that six children have been forced suddenly to accept that a beloved parent has inflicted incalculable, permanent damage on all their lives.
Of course, the situation is as old as humanity itself. Great literature has been inspired by infidelity simply because there is nothing more perennially fascinating than the conflict within the human heart.
All over the world ordinary people, of every age and race and class and creed, fall for people they shouldn’t – because illicit love is as addictive as it can be unexpected and even the most upright person can suddenly be bowled over by passion.
For there is nothing remotely amusing in this clichéd story of deceit and pain. Nothing to giggle at when Martha Hancock and Gina Coladangelo’s husband Oliver Tress have been publicly humiliated – betrayed by people they trusted (pictured: Hancock and Coladangelo in May)
Sleepless nights, desperate yearning, hideously complicated deceptions, consuming guilt and the permanent terror of discovery are the realities of every love affair.
I’ve heard people suggest that a wronged wife or a husband ‘must have known something was going on’. But why? Martha Hancock was used to her husband working long hours and political life offers a myriad excuses for absence.
You can be pretty sure Hancock never had to change his important plans to fit in with half-term or wrestle with the food shopping list or make sure there’s a present ready for the eight-year-old to take to a party.
Oh no, it’s the expendable wife who takes care of the minutiae of family life. I bet Mrs Hancock rolled her eyes when her husband told a journalist, ‘Thank God Martha is wonderful in looking after the children and looking after me and it’s really tough’.
Not nearly as tough as hearing that same grateful husband tell you that your marriage is over because he’s been caught groping a woman you thought was a friend. That’s when you start asking the agonising questions: How long has it been going on? Was I his second best choice back then, when we were all young? Was he thinking about her on Christmas Day?
Was I really so boring that he needed somebody else? Is this what I get for being the ‘wonderful’ loyal wife who supported him in his career? How can I possibly be strong enough to help our children through this scandal when I just want to hide and cry?
As one of Mrs Hancock’s friends has said: ‘This is unimaginably horrible for her and indescribably sad.’ Actually it is easy for me to imagine it because in 2004 my husband Jonathan Dimbleby left me after 35 years of marriage and I, too, had photographers on my doorstep.
It’s no surprise that during my 16 years of writing an advice column I have received many, many letters about infidelity. The terrible shock, bewilderment and pain, the cruel sense of rejection, the feeling that life is over… all those emotions pour out from people who sometimes write years later, because they simply cannot forget.
Once a man with two children wrote to tell me that he had been on the verge of leaving his wife for his mistress when he read one of my replies to somebody else – and realised with a blinding flash of clarity that he had a duty to try to save his marriage: ‘The last nine months have been very hard but I think we’re getting there and we’ll be OK.’
I hope they were. Of course, some marriages can’t be saved and some couples are better apart. Nobody can ever know what goes on between a couple and the most well-suited people can drift apart.
Once there was a stigma attached to divorce. Now nobody seems to care very much – and surely something important has been lost. We do still need to be shocked by the ease with which people hurt each other.
Leaving the political fall-out aside, Matt Hancock has treated his family with great cruelty. Care and decency and respect have been trampled on – yet again.
Wronged partners and miserable children can be capable of great forgiveness, but believe me they never forget.
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