oris Johnson appeared to rewrite history on Monday by implying he encouraged Matt Hancock to resign from the Government.
In an interview, the Prime Minister suggested he wanted Mr Hancock to quit from the start, saying “I read the story on Friday and we’ve got a new health secretary in post on Saturday and I think that’s about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic.”
His official spokesman said on Friday that he had accepted Mr Hancock’s apology and considered the matter “closed”. Then a “source” briefed papers that the PM “reluctantly” accepted the resignation on Saturday. In his letter replying to Mr Hancock’s resignation, Mr Johnson said he was “sorry” to see his colleague go.
Asked to explain the seeming inconsistencies, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said this afternoon that the pair had “discussed it further” when they spoke on Saturday but confirmed that the decision to resign was Mr Hancock’s.
“The health secretary offered his resignation, discussed it with the Prime Minister and he agreed it was the right decision,” said the official spokesman.
Mr Johnson’s comments were made at a by-election visit to Batley and Spen where he fielded questions about his government’s “moral compass” following the row.
Asked whether the Hancock row had undermined the message about being “all in it together”, Mr Johnson said: “That’s right, and that’s why when I saw the story on Friday we had a new secretary of state for health in on Saturday.”
Speaking at Johnstone’s Paints factory in Batley, Mr Johnson said the delay of the resignation until Saturday was “about the right pace” during a pandemic.
“I read the story on Friday and we’ve got a new health secretary in post on Saturday and I think that’s about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic.”