UK health minister resigns after kissing an assistant in violation of COVID-19 regulations
British Health Minister Matt Hancock resigned on Saturday for violating COVID-19 regulations by kissing and hugging an assistant in the office, angering colleagues and the public who have been living under the lockdown.
After the recent scandal shocked a government that oversaw one of the highest official death tolls caused by the pandemic, Hancock wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign, saying that he had let people down.
More and more Conservative MPs have privately urged him to go because “The Sun” published a picture of a married minister hugging a woman on Friday, who has appointed this woman in a taxpayer-funded role to review his department .
“Those of us who make these rules must abide by them, and that’s why I have to resign,” the 42-year-old said in a video on Twitter.
Hancock has always been the center of the government’s fight against pandemics. He often appears on television, telling people to abide by strict regulations and defending his department from criticism of its response to the crisis.
He will be replaced by Sajid Javid, a former finance minister with extensive government experience but unfamiliar with health. In early 2020, Javid was defeated in a power struggle with Johnson’s most senior ally at the time, Dominic Cummings, and was forced to leave the Treasury Department.
His mission is to help state-run health services recover from the pandemic and deal with any future waves of infection. The number of cases started to increase last month.
Hancock’s departure also marked Johnson’s embarrassment, because he said on Friday that he had accepted Hancock’s apology and believed that the matter was over.
He said on Saturday that he regretted receiving a letter of resignation.
“You should be extremely proud of your service,” he wrote in response to Hancock. “I thank you for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”
Last month, The Sun showed Hancock kissing his assistant in his office, when it was against the rules for people to have close contact with people outside the home.
Conservative MPs said that many of them had told the party that they could no longer support him.
The opposition Labor Party also questioned whether Hancock violated the Ministerial Code: The woman of this old friend was appointed as a non-executive director to review the operation of its department.
Media reports on Saturday said she has now resigned.
Labour Party leader Kil Starmer said on Twitter that Hancock was right to resign, but added: “Boris Johnson should fire him.”
With 128,000 deaths and one of the worst economic contractions in history, Britain was shocked by the pandemic and Hancock was severely criticized. In the first few months, his department worked hard to provide testing and protective equipment to hospital staff treating patients.
However, the government was encouraged by the rapid introduction of vaccines. 84% of adults received a dose of the vaccine and 61% of adults had received the vaccine, far ahead of most countries.
Although the number of cases has started to rise-18,000 on Saturday-the vaccine appears to have weakened the link between infection and death, and most restrictions may be lifted before July 19.
Accusations of cronyism
Although the situation has improved, the revelations surrounding Hancock have sparked accusations of hypocrisy. They also accused the Johnson administration of being troubled by nepotism.
Hancock welcomed the resignation of a senior scientist who broke restrictions in a similar way last year. He was also blamed for awarding COVID contracts to companies with close ties to the government. He has stated that he needs to act quickly.
His case also echoes an incident in which Cummings violated the lockdown rule last year. Johnson’s decision to keep him sparked anger across the country and undermined the government’s position.
At that meeting, ministers and legislators expressed their support for Cummings through concerted efforts. In contrast, almost no one defended Hancock on Saturday.
A source in Downing Street said Hancock was not forced to resign. He said in a letter to Johnson that he wanted to apologize to his family and spend time with the children.