Since Boris Johnson arrived at Number 10, ministers have been encouraged to believe that there is no disgrace so appalling that it would result in the sack
At his most recent audience with the Queen, Boris Johnson assured her that the health secretary was “full of beans”. That’s not all Matt Hancock is full of, but one thing he has none of is credibility. Even he eventually saw that when he abandoned an increasingly desperate attempt to cling on to office and belatedly resigned last night.
The problem with him remaining in post was not his infidelity. If being unfaithful to your marital vows was still regarded as incompatible with holding high ministerial office, Mr Johnson would not be prime minister. The problem is that the health secretary had broken the public trust. Rule-breaking is not unfamiliar behaviour from this cabinet, but his was the most egregious example yet of a minister believing that “rules are only for the little people”. Because the health secretary has such critical responsibilities for sustaining public confidence in the handling of the pandemic and the fairness of restrictions, this scandal was even more dangerously toxic than Dominic Cummings’ lockdown-breaking excursions.
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