Tories in Matt Hancock’s constituency back ex-health secretary

Matt Hancock has received the support of Conservative Party members in his constituency after a Tory councillor asked colleagues to deselect the MP if the “selfish, egotistical” former health secretary did not resign.

Ian Houlder wrote to the local party calling for Mr Hancock’s deselection as West Suffolk MP for breaking coronavirus guidance by kissing an aide, which prompted his resignation from Cabinet.

However, the West Suffolk Conservative Association said it had received a “heartfelt apology” from Mr Hancock as it formally backed him to continue representing the constituency.

A spokesperson said: “Following Matt Hancock’s resignation as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, West Suffolk Conservative Association has taken soundings.

“We wish to express our support for Matt, who has served our constituency tirelessly over the past 11 years.

“Matt has given us a heartfelt apology for recent events, has faced up to the mistakes he has made on both a human and a professional level and expressed sincere contrition.

“We want to thank Matt for the extraordinary job he has done as health secretary leading the country through the pandemic and overseeing the rollout of the world’s best vaccination programme, and look forward to working with him as he continues to represent his constituents in Parliament.”

The scandal, according to Tory councillor Mr Houlder’s email to the chair of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, showed Mr Hancock to be a “selfish, egotistical man”.

Matt Hancock affair accusations
The West Suffolk MP resigned as health secretary over the scandal (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“His behaviour has been beyond the pale, his honour, integrity, probity and honesty, should he have had any, trashed beyond redemption,” he said.

“He has let every member of the public down, pontificating that they should all make huge sacrifices on the altar of the pandemic, whilst doing the complete opposite himself.”

Mr Houlder, who sits on West Suffolk Council, also wrote directly to the MP to say: “If you have a shred of integrity or honour you would resign without delay.

“Do the residents of West Suffolk a favour and stand down.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to defend not sacking Mr Hancock, instead leaving him to resign on Saturday, the day after leaked CCTV footage of the embrace on May 6 was published by The Sun.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer questioned the Prime Minister in the Commons over why his spokesman initially said Mr Johnson accepted Mr Hancock’s apology and considered the case “closed”.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

“The Prime Minister was happy to keep a health secretary in place during the pandemic who he not only thought was absolutely hopeless, but he also knew had broken the rules and was in a relationship with somebody he was employing at taxpayers’ expense – it doesn’t sound like case closed to me,” Sir Keir said.

Mr Johnson replied: “I read the story in common with you and everyone else on Friday and we had a new health secretary in place by Saturday, which I think that, given that we have a pandemic, I think to move from one health secretary to the next with that speed was fast.”

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid also had an apparent dig at his predecessor when asked on Twitter why he was not wearing an NHS badge like Mr Hancock always had pinned to his jacket.

“It’s not about badges, but delivering for the NHS,” Mr Javid responded.