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Public ‘absolutely seething’: Britain’s health minister quits after breaching his own COVID rules

Hancock’s departure and the arrival of the respected Javid will offer Johnson the chance to reset the troubled health portfolio as the United Kingdom moves on from the worst of the pandemic.

The affair had sparked widespread anger in Britain and prompted some Conservative Party MPs to demand Hancock’s resignation.

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Veteran Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope told BBC radio his constituents were furious.

“They felt that he was in breach of the ministerial code; that he was in breach of the lockdown regulations; that he is the person who has been passing the laws, signing off the regulations, requiring people to comply with restrictions upon their freedom – many of which people don’t agree with – but they’ve complied with, out of respect for the rule of law,” Chope explained.

“And they’re absolutely seething now, that having made sacrifices themselves, including not seeing loved ones and all the rest of it, they find that the person who was in charge of all this feels free to not comply with his own regulations.”

The 42-year-old Hancock was already under pressure over the UK’s high death toll, questions over NHS contracts and revelations Johnson had last year called him “totally f—king hopeless” in a Whatsapp message sent to senior officials.

Matt Hancock will sit on the backbench after resigning from cabinet.

Matt Hancock will sit on the backbench after resigning from cabinet.Credit:Getty

Johnson’s former top aide, Dominic Cummings, had also accused Hancock of botching the government’s response to the pandemic. Cummings told politicians last month that Hancock “should have been fired” for alleged lies and errors.

Cummings himself was accused of breaking the rules when he drove 400 kilometres across England to his parents’ home during the spring 2020 lockdown.

Johnson on Saturday showered praise on Hancock and said the minister had been asked to tackle “a challenge greater than that faced by any of your predecessors”.

He also kept the door open from Hancock to eventually return to the frontbench.

In his resignation letter, Hancock said: “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. I also need to be with my family at this time.

“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down, as I have done by breaching the guidance.”

With AP

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