Matt Hancock admits he ‘blew up every part of his life’ when CCTV showed him kissing aide

Former health secretary also urges people to ‘test the hell out of ourselves’ over Christmas

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 02 December 2021 20:17
Matt Hancock says ‘I’d blown up every part of my life’ over aide kiss

Matt Hancock has admitted he had “blown up every part” of his life when he resigned from the cabinet after CCTV footage showed him breaching social distancing rules with an aide in his Whitehall office.

The former health secretary also defended his decision not to resign immediately after the images, showing him embracing and kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo, emerged in June – saying he first concentrated on his “personal life”.

At the time, Mr Hancock, who quit his post more than 24 hours after the CCTV images were published by The Sun newspaper, had repeatedly urged the public not to hug those they did not share a household with to control the spread of Covid-19.

Asked on ITV’s Peston why he didn’t “resign on the spot”, the former cabinet minister said: “The first thing I had to do, that I focused on, was my personal life.”

“When I focused on my professional responsibilities, I decided that I had to resign and that’s what I did,” he insisted.

Quizzed again, the former cabinet minister said: “Well, I had blown up every part of my life, and I concentrated on my personal life first as you can probably imagine.”

Mr Hancock, however, declined to elaborate on “conversations” over the resignation with Boris Johnson, who faced criticism at the time for the decision to stand by the under-fire health secretary when demands were made for his resignation.

He added: “Well, I made the decision, it was clearly the right decision and I just say sorry again for the failure of... I let a lot of people down, and sorry to the people who I hurt.”

The Conservative MP – a key face the government’s response to the initial waves of the Covid pandemic – claimed he was “in no hurry” to get back into government.

“I actually think that being on the backbenches is perfectly... I’m enjoying it, but also it’s a very important job and I think contributions from people who’ve been there in the heat of the battle [like] Mark [Harper] as chief whip... or Theresa May – the contributions she makes as former prime minister – and if I can make that sort of contribution in the House of Commons then I’ll enjoy doing it,” he said.

As concerns grow over the omicron variant, the former health secretary also urged people to “test the hell out of ourselves” to “keep things open” over the Christmas period, and he stressed it was “really important” that rapid lateral flow tests remain free at the point of order.

Questioned on whether Jenny Harries, the UK Health Security Agency chief, was right to warn against unnecessary social interactions, Mr Hancock said: “Saying things like we may need to go further on working from home is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Regarding Christmas, he added: “We should test the hell out of ourselves and that is the way, the best way to just be really cautious and careful and just get those tests. They’re available free and take them and that will help to keep things open.”

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