This is a test of Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Matt Hancock has appeared to be Teflon-coated ever since he was first appointed as Health Secretary in 2019.
He immediately set about corrupting and discrediting the position (which some might consider a hard job, after his Tory forerunners stank up that office in their own ways). I’ll go into that shortly.
The current allegations are that he corruptly appointed a college friend, Gina Coladangelo, to a non-executive directorship in the Department of Health, where he then had an affair with her – breaking social distancing rules in the process.
So he was abusing his power in order to bypass the selection process to get his choice. Oh, but wait:
A government spokesman said Ms Coladangelo’s appointment had been “made in the usual way” and had “followed correct procedure”.
If “the usual way” is bypassing fairness in order to appoint cronies, we might be more inclined to accept this explanation. Was “correct procedure” the emergency rule that the government used to dodge competitive tendering to give Covid-19 contracts – and huge amounts of public money – to Tory cronies?
He was also abusing his own social distancing rules by having an affair with this woman.
And he was a hypocrite because he had criticised Professor Neil Ferguson for breaking the rules to have an affair, then deliberately did the same thing himself:
Mr Hancock called Prof Ferguson’s actions “extraordinary”, adding that social distancing rules were “there for everyone” and were “deadly serious”.
Let’s add these latest indiscretions to the list already accumulated by Hancock, shall we?
First, perhaps we should discuss the firm run by his in-laws that he got onto the NHS procurement list and that made him a major shareholder right before it received a big NHS Wales contract.
Perhaps he’s counting his lucky stars, today, that it wasn’t a firm run by relatives of his wife?
His policies caused thousands of Covid-19 deaths in care homes.
He claimed nearly £1,000 of public money for software to improve his image on the internet.
He broke the law by keeping details of Covid-19-related contracts with companies run by Tory cronies secret.
He broke his own 10pm pub curfew because he considers himself to be above the rules he imposes on the rest of us.
After promising that care homes would enjoy regular Covid-19 testing, he failed to provide it.
He blamed young people for causing a rise in Covid-19 when the real culprit was his government policies.
He lied that suicides had decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, they were on the rise.
He received £100,000 in donations from horse racing organisations – and questions were asked about how strongly this influenced his decision to open Newmarket to horse racing during the early-2020 lockdown.
And now, this affair.
Hancock’s offences are legion. So is his incompetence. But Boris Johnson has stood by him throughout all of the above – possibly in the knowledge that, as long as Hancock is around, Johnson himself won’t take all the blame for the decisions of his government.
In times past, a cabinet minister like Hancock would have been off to “spend more time with his family” the moment a whisper of an indiscretion or lack of integrity made it into the newspapers.
That hasn’t happened yet with Hancock – but for how much longer can Johnson resist demands to sack his floundering flunkie?
The longer he delays, the more incompetent and weak Johnson will make himself seem.
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