BORIS Johnson appears to have hinted Matt Hancock could return to the Government because his “contribution is far from over” — despite slamming him as “useless” in a text.
The embattled Health Secretary quit his role on Saturday, a day after humiliating footage of his romantic clinch with a senior aide was published by The Sun.
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Mr Hancock’s three-year tenure as Health Secretary came to an end after The Sun published footage of the MP kissing Gina Coladangelo.
In a resignation letter to the PM, Mr 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”.
In a reply, Mr Johnson said he was sorry to receive his resignation and paid tribute to him and his work battling Covid.
But he also appeared to have left the door open for Hancock’s return.
Concluding, Boris wrote: “You should be immensely proud of your service. I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”
It comes as…
But praise comes after he branded Mr Hancock “totally f***ing hopeless” in bombshell WhatsApps released by ex No10 aide Dominic Cummings.
Mr Johnson later appeared to denounce efforts to procure PPE as a “disaster” and suggested Mr Hancock be stripped of responsibility.
But despite the messages, Mr Johnson this week refused to sack his Health Secretary, with his spokesman saying the PM considered the matter closed after receiving the West Suffolk MP’s apology yesterday.
A Downing Street source said: “Boris accepted the resignation reluctantly. This was very much Matt’s decision.”
But after the resignation, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer fumed: “Matt Hancock is right to resign. But Boris Johnson should have sacked him.”
Liberal Democrats’ leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: “Matt Hancock’s legacy as Health Secretary will be one of cronyism and failure.
“And the fact that Boris Johnson thought Hancock could just carry on regardless brings the Prime Minister’s judgement into question once again.”
Former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will replace Hancock as Health Secretary, Downing Street has announced.
Ms Coladangelo, a friend from Mr Hancock’s days at Oxford University, was brought into DHSC as an unpaid adviser last year before being given the £15,000-a-year role of non-executive director in the department.
She is also reportedly leaving her position on the board of the Department of Health.
Legislation in place at the time said that “no person may participate in a gathering” that “consists of two or more people… and takes place indoors”.
An exception to this rule was that the gathering was “reasonably necessary for work purposes or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services”.
Boris Johnson’s statement in full
Thank you for your letter this evening, tendering your resignation as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. I am sorry to receive it.
You should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us. Under your leadership, the Department has led fundamental reforms to the provision of care in this country.
“The NHS Long Term Plan was a major milestone in the history of that great institution. Your work on the Health and Care Bill will support our NHS and deliver greater integration between health and social care. And your efforts mean that we have a record numbers of doctors and over 14,800 more nurses working in our NHS than last year.
“Above all, it has been your task to deal with a challenge greater than that faced by any of your predecessors, and in fighting Covid you have risen to that challenge – with the abundant energy, intelligence and determination that are your hallmark. Under your leadership, the Department for Health and Social Care has identified and deployed critical life-saving treatments such as Dexamethasone, rapidly increased hospital capacity through the Nightingale programme, and provided 11.7 billion items of PPE to the frontline at record speed.
In March 2020, we had the capacity to test 2,000 people a day; now, we have built the largest diagnostic network in British history and have administered over 200 million tests. The vaccine procurement and deployment programme – in my view one of the greatest successes of the modern state – is now forging our path out of the pandemic.
“Through the establishment of the United Kingdom Health Security Agency, you have also built the foundation to ensure the UK is better prepared for any future pandemic.
“You made a considerable contribution to Government before becoming Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. I know that previous Prime Ministers were grateful for your work in ministerial positions in the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, the Cabinet Office, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. You have, across those roles, been a consistent and vigorous champion of the power of digital transformation.
“You should be immensely proud of your service. I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”
And Mr Hancock finally quit his post on Saturday night, saying he did not want his personal life to be a distraction.
A downbeat Hancock posted to Twitter as he released his resignation.
He said: “I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made – that you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.
“I want to thank people for their incredible sacrifices and what they’ve done. Everybody working in the NHS, across social care.
“Everyone involved in the vaccine programme. And frankly everybody in this country who has risen to the challenges that we’ve seen over this past 18 months.”