UK government accused of hypocrisy as health minister quits
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s health secretary has resigned after a tabloid splashed photos and videos of him kissing an aide in his office — breaking the same coronavirus social distancing rules he imposed on the nation.
While Matt Hancock was swiftly replaced, the scandal was another blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative government, which has repeatedly come under criticism for incompetence and hypocrisy in its handling of the pandemic over the past year.
“People have made huge sacrifices to beat the pandemic and what riles them is the whiff of hypocrisy that people make the rules and don’t stick to them themselves,” Conservative lawmaker Andrew Bridgen told the BBC on Sunday.
Hancock announced his resignation Saturday, a day after apologizing for breaching social distancing rules after the Sun tabloid published images showing him and senior aide Gina Coladangelo embracing and kissing in his office. The Sun said the images were taken on May 6, before lockdown rules were eased to allow hugs and physical contact with people not in one’s own household.
Hancock, who is married, wasn’t the first senior British politician caught red-handed for breaking the government’s own COVID-19 rules.
Johnson’s former top aide, Dominic Cummings, was accused of undermining the government’s “stay home” message during Britain’s first lockdown in 2020 when he broke a travel ban and drove across England to his parents’ home. The breach caused a furor and was widely seen to erode public trust in Johnson’s government.
And Neil Ferguson, a leading government scientific adviser who advocated for strict lockdown rules, quit his position in May 2020 after it emerged he didn’t practice what he preached and allowed his girlfriend to visit him at home. At the time, Hancock remarked...