Matt Hancock, Britain’s beleaguered health secretary, apologizes after being caught in embrace with aide

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Hancock is below fireplace after The Solar printed a narrative with pictures that seem to indicate him kissing Gina Coladangelo, whom the tabloid claims is his pal and adviser. The Solar alleges that the photographs are from Could 6, two weeks earlier than cross-household contact was allowed indoors in England.

The well being secretary issued an announcement to reporters on Friday through which he appealed for privateness. “I settle for that I breached the social distancing steerage in these circumstances. I’ve let folks down and am very sorry,” he mentioned.

“I stay targeted on working to get the nation out of this pandemic, and would be thankful for privateness for my household on this private matter.”

The Sun‘s report has sparked accusations of obvious cronyism — an allegation that the well being secretary has confronted beforehand for awarding a contract to a former neighbor for Covid-19 take a look at kits.

Hancock has been below fireplace for months over his dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain, however has managed to cling onto his function.

He has been accused by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings of botching the nation’s coronavirus testing program, in addition to mendacity concerning the dire scenario in care properties and the scarcity of non-public protecting tools (PPE). Hancock has denied the claims.

Up to now, greater than 128,000 folks have died in the UK from Covid-19 — the best dying toll in Europe. One of many largest early failures of the UK’s response to Covid-19 was in constructing a test-and-trace system. The British authorities has additionally been criticized for neglecting care properties, permitting many services to go with out enough PPE, testing and clear tips.

Boris Johnson described his health secretary as 'hopeless,' according to former aide

Cummings delivered a damning account of the federal government’s coronavirus response in a marathon seven-hour listening to earlier than members of parliament in Westminster final month, accusing Downing Road and Hancock of deceptive the British public.

The divisive determine, who stop his put up final November amid the UK’s lethal second wave of the pandemic, doubled down on his criticisms of Hancock final week.

“Because the PM mentioned himself, Hancock’s efficiency on testing, procurement, PPE [personal protective equipment], care properties and many others was ‘completely f**king hopeless,'” Cummings mentioned in a tweet, sharing a screenshot of what seems to be a WhatsApp trade with Johnson simply days after the UK went into its first full lockdown amid a worsening outbreak.

On March 27, 2020, the identical day that Johnson and Hancock each examined constructive for the coronavirus, Cummings mentioned he texted the prime minister to inform him the tempo of coronavirus testing was too gradual and that the well being minister had misled authorities about his means to hurry it up.

In keeping with the screenshot shared on Cummings’ weblog and on Twitter, Johnson responded: “Completely f**king hopeless.”

In one other textual content message a month later, on April 27, when Nationwide Well being Service employees have been working out of essential masks and robes, Johnson mentioned the PPE shortages have been “a catastrophe,” and steered taking Hancock off procurement of the tools fully.

“Wtf can we do?” Johnson wrote.

Requested final week by Sky News whether or not he was certainly hopeless, Hancock mentioned: “I do not suppose so.” Johnson has not commented on the WhatsApp messages, and his official spokesman mentioned the Prime Minister doesn’t plan to interact with each allegation that’s made.

The chaos engulfing Hancock had already reached such a scale that it even drew the eye of the Queen.

The Queen alluded to the well being secretary’s woes on Wednesday in her first in-person viewers with the prime minister in 15 months, informing Johnson that she had been chatting with “your secretary of state for well being, poor man.”

It’s unclear whether or not the remark was a response to the heavy burden of managing the nation’s coronavirus response, or an acknowledgment of the criticism Hancock has obtained from Cummings.

“I’ve simply been speaking to your secretary of state for well being, poor man. He got here for privy council. He is stuffed with …”

“Beans,” Johnson quipped.

“He thinks that issues are getting higher,” the Queen mentioned, to which Johnson replied: “Properly, er, they’re, within the sense that we’re …” earlier than the video abruptly ends.

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