MATT Hancock is facing furious demands to resign over his bombshell affair – as Tory MPs break the ranks to back public calls for him to go.
Boris Johnson yesterday refused to fire the embattled Health Secretary, hours after footage of the minister’s clinch with a senior aide at work was published by The Sun.
But pressure for Mr Hancock to step down is mounting – and now MP Duncan Baker, who represents North Norfolk, became the first serving Conservative to openly call for him to quit.
He said: “In my view, people in high public office and great positions of responsibility should act with the appropriate morals and ethics that come with that role.
“Matt Hancock – on a number of measures – has fallen short of that.”
And now former Work and Pensions Secretary and Tory MP for Tatton Esther McVey has urged Mr Hancock to step down.
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She said: “If it had been me, I would have resigned myself.”
This morning, Mr Hancock faced fresh embarrassment when an ally booked in to defend him on the radio failed to turn up.
The unnamed supporter was due to be interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – but presenters Mishal Husain and Martha Kearney were forced to explain that he’s “not been answering his phone”.
The pair told listeners: “We had been expecting to speak to a supporter of Matt Hancock this morning but he’s not been answering his phone. We will keep trying.”
Tory MPs have leapt to Mr Hancock’s defence – and last night, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC: “There’s a task to be done, Matt is on the job doing that, and I think we should allow him to get on with the job.”
And he claimed that “the rules have been hard” – news that won’t come as a surprise to the millions of Brits who have complied faultlessly since coronavirus took hold.
Away from Downing Street, however, there’s been a huge outcry that Mr Hancock seems likely to hang onto his job.
And it’s thought the PM will eventually bow to the pressure – amid claims at Cabinet reshuffle will be brought forward so Mr Hancock can get the boot with ‘dignity’.
A Savanta ComRes snap poll found the public wanted him to quit by a margin of 58 to 25. A separate YouGov survey had the margin at 49 to 25.
Even senior officials now appear to be turning against the politician. One told the Mail Mr Hancock’s conduct was “gross” and his apology “pathetic”.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen warned that if polls start showing “the public want him out”, then “he could be gone by Monday”, while another said it was like “Animal Farm” in Whitehall.
Sayeeda Warsi, a former Conservative Party chairman, attacked the failure to sack Mr Hancock, saying: “It’s a bad decision by Matt and a bad decision by the PM.”
Meanwhile, there has been no sign of Mr Hancock since news of the scandal broke – although he reportedly met with top officials in the hours after the affair was revealed.
The Guardian reports a decision was taken by the politician, the department’s permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald and the head of security not to seek out the person responsible for leaking the footage.
The Government believes they know who did it – but hope to let the storm blow over as quickly as possible.
Mr Hancock and colleagues met in private hours after we revealed the top minister had an affair with Gina Coladangelo, 43, an old friend recruited secretly during the pandemic.
He was recorded kissing her on May 6– while hugging was still banned.
Just ten days later, the hypocritical politician warned the country we mustn’t cuddle our loved ones.
“We should all be careful. We all know the risks. Of course there are people who have been yearning to have some physical contact,” he said.
Mr Hancock yesterday apologised for breaching social distancing with DoH non-executive director Gina, the wife of Oliver Bonas founder Oliver Tress.
He made no public apology to his wife of 15 years, Martha, 44, with whom he shares three children. She has been seen out in public still wearing her wedding ring since news broke.
Boris Johnson yesterday said he considers the matter “closed” – but despite that, Mr Hancock faces a gruelling fight to cling to his position.
Questions have also been raised over Mrs Coladangelo’s recruitment, with a Tory source claiming: “They always appeared to be incredibly close. Her status was always slightly mysterious but she went everywhere with him.”
Meanwhile, the minister’s humiliation has only deepened after new footage of the the encounter was released.
Exclusive Sun images of the May 6 clinch shows the Health Secretary checking no one is heading for his office by looking out of the door.
At the time, Hancock had received one dose of vaccine, on April 29.
Other pictures show the pair giggling during a secret dinner date on May 23.
Diners at Peruvian restaurant Ayllu, in Paddington, West London, said the pair looked just like a couple as they sank white wine together after 10pm.
Top officials at the Met Police have confirmed they won’t be investigating the affair.
Now sources from the Government say they’ve also ruled out a mole hunt – because if the person responsible for the leak was tracked down, they could claim they were a whistleblower exposing wrongdoing.
One said: “They aren’t going to do a leak inquiry.”
Officials initially believed the image was taken by a photographer using a long lens camera and based in the building opposite their HQ.
However, they now believe a member of staff was responsible, it’s reported.
‘HANCOCK IS PATHETIC,’ BLASTS PIERS
Piers Morgan is among those calling for Mr Hancock to go.
The minister groped Mrs Coladangelo months after saying Professor Neil Ferguson should be investigated by police for his lockdown affair.
Unlike Mr Hancock, Prof Ferguson resigned from his Government role after news he’d flouted regulations was revealed.
TV firebrand Piers said: “At the time he was ordering the British people not to hug anyone from other households…”
And last night, he said: “Remember: Matt Hancock was so disgusted about Neil Ferguson breaking social distancing rules with a lover, that he demanded he resign and said he’d back a police prosecution.