Politics

Who will replace Hancock as Health Secretary after MP’s affair exposed?

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock has resigned days after he was accused of having an affair with one of his closest aides.

It came a day after The Sun revealed images showing Hancock, who is married, and senior aide Gina Coladangelo kissing in an office at the Department of Health.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has resigned

In a resignation letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government owed it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down.

He added: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading up out of this crisis.”

Johnson said he was sorry to receive Hancocks resignation and that he should leave office very proud of what you have achieved not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid19 struck us.”

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But who will replace Hancock in this crucial post? Here we look at potential candidates. 

Grant Shapps 

Many see the 52-year-old as a favourite for the post. 

Boris Johnson appointed Shapps as Transport Secretary in 2019.

He defended the health secretary after images were published in the Sun of Hancock in what the paper called a ‘clinch’ with Gina Coladangelo, a government adviser. 

Shapps said such roles involved significant civil service oversight and declined to comment on the nature of the relationship between Hancock and Coladangelo.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney, Shapps added: ‘There has for a long time been a complete difference between what people do in their job and what they do in their personal lives.’

Grant Shapps defended the Health Secretary yesterday

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Grant Shapps defended the Health Secretary yesterdayCredit: Rex

Nadhim Zahawi 

The vaccine minister would be the ideal candidate for the job after the success of the jab rollout. 

This would involve a minimal shift without having to go through a disruptive full reshuffle. 

The vaccination drive is the Government’s biggest success of the whole pandemic.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has impressed after the successful jab role out

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Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has impressed after the successful jab role outCredit: Reuters

Michael Gove

Leaked texts from Dominic Cummings highlight at one point last year Boris Johnson considered replacing Matt Hancock with Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.

Gove, who was elected as an MP for Surrey Heath in 2005, does have experience in office. 

He became Secretary of State for Education in 2010, Chief Whip in 2014 and Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice in 2015, before he was dismissed by Theresa May.

Following the 2017 General Election he was brought back with his appointment as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

He is currently Cabinet Office minister.

Leaked memos suggest Matt Hancock could be replaced with Cabinet Minister Michael Gove

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Leaked memos suggest Matt Hancock could be replaced with Cabinet Minister Michael GoveCredit: PA

Jeremy Hunt 

Hunt, was promoted to Health Secretary in 2012, is another possibility.

He held the position until 2018, making him the person to have held the job the longest in British political history.

During his tenure, he oversaw the imposition of a controversial new junior doctors’ contract in England after a dispute in which junior doctors undertook multiple strikes, the first such industrial action for 40 years.

He was as Foreign Secretary from 2018 to 2019.

Priti Patel

She is another potential candidate because she is a high-profile figure in Boris Johnson’s cabinet.

She was appointed Home Secretary in July 2019.

A Eurosceptic, she was a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum.

She is also known to play hardball. Shortly after taking up the post of home secretary, she said she wanted criminals to “literally feel terror” at the thought of breaking the law.

But her time as Home Secretary has not been without controversy. 

A Cabinet Office inquiry into her conduct found that Ms Patel had “unintentionally” breached the ministerial code in her behaviour towards civil servants.

Matt Hancock resigns after affair with aide is exposed


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