Norfolk MP says Matt Hancock 'should be proud' despite 'untenable' position

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Cov

Health secretary Matt Hancock during Friday's media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). - Credit: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

A Norfolk MP said former health secretary Matt Hancock deserves credit for putting the country first, but admitted his position became "untenable."

Great Yarmouth MP and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis appeared on Sky News' Trevor Phillips on Sunday show following Matt Hancock's resignation as health secretary.

The announcement on Saturday evening came after North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker became the first Tory to call for Mr Hancock to resign in the wake of his breach of social distancing after being caught in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo last month.

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth.

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Mr Lewis, who was also contacted for his views by this newspaper on Saturday but did not respond, said Mr Hancock was right to quit after “taking that opportunity to look at the situation and to reflect”.

He rejected that Mr Hancock had only stood down because criticism from others had started to mount, saying: "Quite rightly, Matt has been focused all through this year and a half or more we have been dealing with the dreadful situation with the pandemic to deliver for people.

"In his own letter, and ultimately I think he has made the right judgement, that he didn't want the situation around himself to distract from the key focus and work to deliver for people on the pandemic and as we come out.

"He has apologised for breaching the guidelines and he has been right all along - we all have to do our bit to follow the guidelines to help keep everyone safe.

"It is a credit to Matt that his first thought is around making sure the country and government can continue doing the work they need to do as we come out of the pandemic, and it is right Matt and his entire team should be proud of the work he has done, not just with the pandemic.

"Ultimately, what the public, including my constituents in Great Yarmouth, want us focused on, is getting on with the job of government and making sure we can deliver on the vaccine roll-out and build back better.

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"I accept and understand the frustration and anger people have having been through the situations they have been through.

"What Matt did was wrong and that is why he apologised immediately for his behaviour and acknowledged it and why he took the decision that his position was untenable and distracting." 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will be investigating how the footage from Matt Hancock’s office was leaked, Mr Lewis said when asked about the security concerns around the footage.

He said: “Quite rightly what happens in Government departments can be sensitive and important., so yes, I do know that is something the Department of Health will be taking forward as an internal investigation.”