When Britain awoke on Friday morning to tabloid pictures of the health secretary, Matt Hancock, in a ‘steamy clinch’ with a colleague, it was clear that his career hung by a thread. He had been a harsh critic of other prominent figures breaking lockdown rules, and here was what appeared to be a clear breach of his own social distancing guidelines. Later that day he was given the backing of the prime minister, who considered the matter closed. It was anything but.
The following morning saw the release of a full CCTV version of the incident in his office, and on the airwaves there was a distinct lack of colleagues willing to support him. Later that day his resignation letter was accepted by Boris Johnson. Hancock was gone.
But as the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland tells Anushka Asthana, many questions remain unanswered. Did the affair pre-date the employment of Gina Coladangelo at the Department of Health? How could such intimate images be leaked from the inner office of a secretary of state? Did he break rules on the use of private email? And how much has the incident damaged Johnson’s government?
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