Prime minister Boris Johnson “risks jeopardising vital public health measures” by retaining Matt Hancock as health secretary, the SNP has said.
The party has added to the growing pressure on Hancock to resign after he was caught kissing a close aide in breach of coronavirus restrictions. A video of Hancock in an embrace with Gina Coladangelo was published on 25 June by the Sun newspaper. It has sparked further calls for Hancock’s departure.
The SNP said there are “very serious questions” for Hancock and the incident cannot “simply be brushed under the carpet”.
The SNP’s Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald said:
Boris Johnson risks jeopardising the vital public health measures in place the longer he desperately clings on to his shamed Health Secretary – just like he did with Dominic Cummings.
The Prime Minister must at long last do the right thing and put his responsibilities to public health first.
There must be public confidence in those setting the rules and it cannot be the case that it is one rule for the Tory elite and another for the rest of us.
Despite declaring the matter closed, the reality is that it is anything but closed.
There are very serious questions for Matt Hancock to answer over the appointment of his aide to the lucrative position, as well as questions over whether or not Hancock broke the ministerial code.
This cannot simply be brushed under the carpet.
The Prime Minister must remove the Health Secretary from his position immediately, and there must be a full independent public inquiry into Tory sleaze and cronyism without any further delay.
Furious bereaved families
In a statement on 24 June, Hancock said:
I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances, I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.
A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson had accepted Hancock’s apology and “considers the matter closed”.
A snap poll by Savanta ComRes, released hours after photographs of the pair kissing in Hancock’s ministerial office surfaced, found 58% of UK adults feel he should resign. Meanwhile 25% of respondents said he should stay in post.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, which represents those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, also called for Hancock to go.
In a letter to the prime minister, the group said it has broken its “position of neutrality on ministerial conduct” in order to urge Johnson to relieve Hancock of his job.
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