Matt Hancock was right to resign but the Prime Minister should have sacked him on the spot for what he did, not wait around, hoping it would all go away.
Just as with Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister has showed enormously bad judgement in backing someone who so very clearly broke the COVID rules. You cannot be a COVID rule maker and a COVID rule breaker. This really reinforces that there is one set of rules for those in the Government, and another set of rules for the rest of us.
Not only did Mr Hancock break social distancing rules and his own guidance, but there are also serious questions to answer about how his aide, who he was in a relationship with, was employed as an adviser and then given a plum job on the non-executive board of the Department for Health and Social Care – all paid for with public money, without this relationship being declared. This looks like jobs and favours for the person you are in a relationship with, and that is wrong. I want to see a full investigation into what rules were broken and what lessons will be learned. The sleaze that has engulfed this government shows no sign of ending.
What the former Health Secretary did has made a mockery of the rules at the very time when the virus is spreading, and we need people to follow the guidance. Many people, like me, have been warning that Government communications have been poor. When the British people have given so much, they need to know the Government is following the same rules. It is patently obvious ministers and their advisers see rules as only applying to other people and that is arrogant and unacceptable.
The Prime Minister should have fired Matt Hancock on the spot, instead he backed him, and now it seems he is trying to rewrite history by saying he was right to go. If he felt that way, why did he say he considered the matter closed when it so clearly was not – that is yet another terrible example of bad judgement.
I want to see the new Health Secretary get on top of the virus and the failings of his department. That means ending the crony contracts, where Tory donors and chums of Ministers get lucrative COVID contracts for PPE with little or no competition, it means ending the privatisation of the NHS that is accelerating under this Government, it means bringing forward a plan to fix social care and it means paying our NHS staff a decent wage not a real terms pay cut.