Matt Hancock has resigned as health secretary after admitting breaking coronavirus rules, Downing Street says.
In his letter of resignation, 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.
“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.”
It comes after leaked CCTV showed the MP kissing aide and former lobbyist Gina Coladangelo in his departmental office.https://a4d3ae04fea28e6b27356548b1946491.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlAdvertisement
The images, published by The Sun, were from 6 May – more than a week before the easing of social distancing rules around close contact indoors for people from separate households.
Ms Coladangelo will also leave her position at the Department of Health and Social Care, it was confirmed on Saturday.
Mr Hancock said in his letter of resignation: “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.
“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.”
Responding to Mr Hancock’s resignation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote: “You should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before COVID-19 struck us.”
He added: “You should be immensely proud of your service. I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”
Sajid Javid will replace Mr Hancock as health secretary.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats had demanded Mr Hancock’s removal, saying the footage raised questions over whether there was a conflict of interest in the appointment of Ms Coladangelo, and whether social distancing rules had been broken.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman had earlier rejected any impropriety, saying “This appointment was made in the usual way and followed correct procedure.”
As questions over his future were growing, Mr Hancock pulled out of a planned constituency event and issued a written statement apologising for breaking COVID rules, but indicated he intended to continue in post.
Credit: Sky News (Photo Credit: Sky News)