Matt Hancock has quit as health secretary for breaking covid regulations following news of his “steamy clinch” with a top aide.
He has been replaced by former chancellor Sajid Javid.
In a video released through his Twitter account, Hancock revealed that he had been to see the prime minister “to resign as secretary of state for health and social care.”
He said he understood “the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made”, adding: “Those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”
Boris Johnson said he was “sorry” to receive Hancock’s resignation letter, and he “should leave office very proud of what you have achieved.”
On Friday The Sun newspaper published photos of Hancock kissing his aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his Department of Health office.
The clinch reportedly took place on 6 May, two weeks before hugging between households was allowed, and it is this breach of covid guidelines that has ultimately been his downfall.
In his resignation letter to the prime minister, he wrote: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.
“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this.”
On Friday, Downing Street backed Hancock saying it considered the matter closed, but the health secretary had continued to come under mounting pressure with MPs from all sides calling for his resignation.
In May 2020, Hancock said he was “speechless” when it emerged professor Neil Ferguson visited a lover in breach of official social distancing rules. He said at the time: “He took the right decision to resign.”
Politics.co.uk’s editor-at-large, Ian Dunt, yesterday highlighted the “hypocrisy” and the “inconsistency” of Hancock’s actions. In the Week in Review, he wrote: “If a view takes hold that ministers do not follow the demands they make of the public, those demands will not be followed.”
He added: “There’s a delicate balancing act here between puritanism and legitimate political concerns. The affair doesn’t matter on its own terms. That’s an issue for Hancock and his wife. But there are political dimensions to it which do matter and on those he has questions to answer.”