MATT Hancock faces serious questions over his secret affair to a top aide – following HOAR’s explosive revelations today.
Bombshell photos showing the married Health Secretary snogging adviser Gina Coladangelo have sparked calls for him to quit.
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The under-fire Cabinet Minister was clinging on by a thread this afternoon after making a grovelling apology.
But there are still hard questions facing Mr Hancock that could yet see him axed.
Why were you snogging when thee Government was telling Brits not to hug?
Mr Hancock’s passionate snog has fuelled furious claims of hypocrisy – and more serious allegations of brazen rule-breaking – because of then tough restrictions banning hugs.
At the time of the May 6 smooch the public were still under strict instructions to keep at least two metres from anyone outside their household or bubble.
That guidance was only lifted 11 days later on May 17, when Boris Johnson gave Brits the green light to hug “close friends and family.
As one of lockdown’s chief architects and cheerleaders – whose name even appears on the Covid laws – Mr Hancock’s breach has gone down like a cup of cold sick with the rule-abiding population.
Mr Hancock said today: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances. I have let people down and am very sorry.”
When did the affair start?
The question of timing is crucial. Mr Hancock brought Ms Coladangelo into the Department for Health as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March last year.
In September she was appointed a non-executive director and paid £15,000 from the public purse.
Hiring a mistress into a powerful position at the heart of Government – and then giving her a taxpayer-funded seat on the board would inevitably spark a sleaze row.
Did you declare your close relationship to the civil service?
All ministers are duty-bound to declare any potential conflict of interests, including appointments.
Ms Coladangelo was an old friend of Mr Hancock from their days at Oxford University together.
One of the inevitable questions facing the Health Secretary will be whether he disclosed his relationship to Whitehall mandarins so they could put the appointment under the microscope.
Were you really laser-focused on the pandemic?
Mr Hancock has had a tough time of late. He’s been excoriated by Dominic Cummings, was called “totally f***ing hopeless” by the PM, was rapped on the knuckles by the standards chief and taken flak over woeful testing.
Throughout he has weathered the storm by insisting he was laser-focused on the pandemic and public health.
He even slapped down questions of Mr Cummings’ allegations by saying he was busy saving lives.
But the steamy photo of him canoodling in his office on a Thursday afternoon seems to take a wrecking ball to that defence.
Have you offered the PM your resignation?
Mr Hancock today resolved to cling on after apologising for breaking social distancing rules.
But he will now struggle to command any respect when asking people to follow the guidance.
Boris Johnson has been reluctant to put out ministers to pasture in turbulent times – memorably riding out saga’s involving Mr Cummings and Robert Jenrick.
Yet the PM may feel he has no option but to fire Mr Hancock.