On his BBC show Andrew Marr has just revealed that he has recently had coronavirus. He says he thinks he caught it in Cornwall, when he was covering the G7 summit.
Alan Johnson, the former Labour health secretary, has just told Trevor Phillips on Sky that he thinks Sajid Javid is a “good appointment” at health. In “a cabinet of sycophants”, Javid will stand out, because last year resigned rather than accept a No 10 attempt to stop him appointing his own advisers, Johnson said.
Labour says PM’s reluctance to sack Hancock shows he has ‘very dangerous blind spot’ over integrity
Lucy Powell, the shadow housing secretary, was interviewed on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday for Labour.
- Powell said it would be “pretty disgusting” if Matt Hancock were to receive the usual severance payment offered to cabinet ministers when they leave the government. According to the Sun, the payment would be worth around £16,000.
- She confirmed that her Labour colleague, Fleur Anderson, has written to the police asking if Hancock committed an offence. (According to the Observer, the Metropolitan police has said it will not be launching an investigation into Hancock.)
- Powell said Boris Johnson had a “very dangerous blind spot” over issues of integrity and conduct in public life. Repeating Labour’s point that Johnson should have sacked Hancock immediately (see 8.21am), she said:
I’m afraid it feels to me like the prime minister has a very dangerous blind spot when it comes to issues of integrity and conduct in public life. And that’s a really big problem. It’s an even bigger problem when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and you’re asking the public to also have integrity and conduct in the way that they go about with their own lives.
In his Sky interview Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, confirmed that the Department for Health and Social Care is investigating how Matt Hancock was filmed in his private office. (See 8.46am.)
According to a story by Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times (paywall), Hancock was filmed with a CCTV camera hidden inside a smoke detector. Shipman reports:
The working assumption of security chiefs is that a government contractor obtained access to a feed from the camera and either downloaded it or filmed the monitor with his phone to pass to The Sun.
And in the Mail on Sunday Glen Owen says a whistleblower was involved in offering the video footage to the media. Owen reports:
The footage of Mr Hancock kissing Gina Coladangelo was caught on a CCTV camera in his office on May 6, and secretly recorded by a member of his department’s staff.
After allowing a month to elapse, the whistleblower approached lockdown sceptics and asked them to help sell the incendiary footage to the media.
Trevor Phillips says Sajid Javid is expected to speak to the media this morning.
Q: Is this a hospital pass for Javid?
Lewis says the Tories are fortunate to have “such a depth of talent” in the party. Javid knows how to run a department, and he will be supported by “a phenomenal team”.
Q: Will Javid tell us what the government wants to do on social care?
Lewis says the PM has said he will be announcing plans before the end of the year.
This is a complicated area. There is a huge amount of work to do.
And that’s it. The interview is over.
Lewis confirms DHSC investigating how Hancock filmed in private office
Q: Will the government be undertaking an urgent security review? How is it possible that what happens in a ministerial office can be revealed like this? For Hancock, this was embarrassing. Elsewhere this could be lethal.
Lewis says the government needs to get to the bottom of this. He says the Department for Health is investigating it.
Lewis says the Ministry of Defence is investigating this.
Trevor Phillips says on 11 May – five days after Matt Hancock was filmed embracing his aide – he had to bury his daughter. There were 300 people at the funeral online. But they could not all be there because of the rules. The next time the government tells us what do do, why shouldn’t we tell you where to get off?
Lewis says Hancock accepts what he did was wrong.
Q: Why did it take two days to get to this point? It feels like Hancock only stood down because he lost support; not because he realises what people feel about this.
Lewis says “credit to Matt” that he looked at this again and decided, on reflecting, it would be a distraction if he stayed in his job.
Q: If something like this happened in your department, it would not take you so long to get rid of someone, would it?
Lewis says he does not answer hypothetical questions because every situation is different.
Q: The government is being accuses of hypocrisy, cronyism and waste. Are you about to squander the credit you have got with the public?
Lewis says the vaccine rollout has been a great success.
Q: You have told me that five times.
Lewis says the government will continue with this work.
On Sky News Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, is being interviewed by Trevor Phillips.
Lewis says he thinks Matt Hancock made the right decision to go.
Q: Hancock spent his time shaming people who broke the rules, like Prof Neil Ferguson. Then he spent two days trying to stay in office. He does not get it, does he?
Lewis says Hancock did not want his case to distract from the government’s important work. The vaccine rollout has been a phenomenal success, he says.
Q: This was not just forgetting his mask in a shop; Hancock was having a relationship and doing things he told the rest of us not to do.
Lewis says Hancock has accepted what he did was wrong. He has apologised.
Q: For 48 hours Hancock and Boris Johnson treated this as a minor slip. It seems Hancock went not because he thought what he did was wrong, but because other people thought that. Are Hancock and Johnson the only people in the country who cannot see what was wrong.
Lewis says Hancock should be proud of his record at health.
Even in the last few days, Hancock and the PM wanted to keep that knowledge in government. After reflection, Hancock decided he was a distraction.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, questioned last night whether Sajid Javid was the right person to be the next health secretary. In a statement Ashworth said:
Sajid Javid failed to reverse the previous eight years of social care cuts or deliver the investment our NHS needed in his time as chancellor of the exchequer.
He now needs to explain how he will bring down sky high waiting lists, ensure people get the cancer care they need, get young people vital mental health support and crucially fix social care, which has suffered swingeing cuts under the Conservatives.
Given that Javid was the first chancellor since Iain Macleod in 1970 to be in office for so short a period of time that he did not get to deliver a budget, Ashworth’s criticism of his record in the job may seem harsh.
Johnson criticised by opposition parties for not sacking Hancock
The opposition parties have criticised Boris Johnson for not sacking Matt Hancock as soon as it became clear he had breached his own lockdown rules.
This from Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, said in a statement last night:
This is a massive failure of leadership on Boris Johnson’s part. Matt Hancock should have been sacked – not given the opportunity and time to resign over the weekend.
And this is from Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader.
Sajid Javid begins role as new health secretary
Good morning. We’ll be following all the reaction to Matt Hancock’s resignation last night. The key developments include:
- Hancock abandoned attempts to cling on to his job following the revelation in a Sun story on Friday morning that he had embraced his close aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his office on 6 May, in breach of Covid regulations. It has also been reported that he has told his wife their marriage is over and left the family home.
- Sajid Javid has been appointed to replace him as health secretary. Javid was chancellor when Boris Johnson became prime minister, but resigned in February 2020 when No 10 insisted on having a veto over the aides allowed to work for him.
- The Sunday Times (paywall) has reported that Hancock is facing an investigation after using a personal email account instead of an official address during the pandemic in a breach of government guidelines.
- Boris Johnson has used his response to Hancock’s resignation letter to suggest Hancock may return to government one day. Johnson ended his letter saying: “I am grateful for your support and believe your contribution to public service is far from over.”
- Dominic Cummings, who was Johnson’s senior adviser until he resigned last year and who is now a fierce public critic of the PM’s, has claimed he tricked Johnson into sacking Javid last year. He posted this on Twitter last night.
Here is the Observer’s overnight splash.
Today I will be following the latest developments, and bringing you analysis too. A major resignation is never welcome news for a government. Often it can be very destabilising. But, over time, the impact is over not as bad as the headlines suggest, because a resignation can remove the source of a grievance. What damaged the government’s reputation with the public most last year was probably not a resignation but a non-resignation; Cummings’s failure to quit after his lockdown-busting excursion to Barnard Castle.
Here is the line up for the two main political programmes this morning.
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