London, Jun 26 (EFE).- Matt Hancock resigned Saturday as the United Kingdom’s health secretary in the wake of the publication of photos that show him embracing an aide in violation of Covid-19 protocols.
Sajid Javid, a former home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer, is to replace Hancock, the government of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“Those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign,” Hancock, 42, said in a video posted on Twitter.
Hancock, who has a wife and three children, stepped down a day after The Sun newspaper published the photos of him with one of his advisers, Gina Coladangelo, inside his office.
The tabloid said that the images were from May 6, when the pandemic protocols counseled against unmasked indoor encounters among people from different households.
“The last thing I want is for my private life to distract from the single-minded approach that is leading us out of this crisis,” Hancock wrote in his letter of resignation to Johnson, which came a day after the prime minister expressed support for his colleague and said that he considered the matter closed.
Johnson replied by expressing regret over the resignation and praising Hancock’s performance as health secretary.
“You should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us,” the prime minister wrote.
Coladangelo, an Oxford University classmate of Hancock, has left her position on the board of the Department for Health and Social Care, Sky News reported.
Hancock brought her into the department last year as an unpaid adviser and she subsequently became a non-executive director.
The now-former health secretary had been a target for public ire for months and his situation worsened with the release several weeks ago of text messages between Johnson and the prime minister’s erstwhile top aide, Dominic Cummings.
In one exchange disclosed by Cummings, Johnson refers to Hancock as “hopeless.”
The UK has Europe’s highest death toll from Covid-19, with more than 128,000 fatalities, and British authorities detected 90,511 new infections in the past week, an increase of 47.9 percent from the previous week. EFE