Matt Hancock should have quit immediately - Scotsman comment

The need to adhere to social distancing rules and lockdown restrictions has been an enormous challenge for everyone over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Few of us could claim to have never bent or broken these rules, perhaps by simply standing closer than two metres to a loved one or by briefly flouting a supermarket’s one-way system.

Nevertheless, it is right that those imposing these restrictions should be held to account when they break them, no matter how trivial the breach.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised after photographs emerged of her without a mask while attending a wake, and Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned as Scotland's chief medical officer after twice breaking restrictions to visit her second home.

Matt Hancock posted a video on his twitter feed on Saturday in which he resigned as Health Secretary. Photo: Matt Hancock/PA Wire
Matt Hancock posted a video on his twitter feed on Saturday in which he resigned as Health Secretary. Photo: Matt Hancock/PA Wire

MP Margaret Ferrier had the SNP whip removed after she allegedly travelled from Glasgow to the House of Commons while awaiting the results of a Covid test in September last year. She was later charged with culpable and reckless conduct.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings caused public outrage when he drove from London to County Durham with his wife and son during the first lockdown in breach of restrictions after his wife developed coronavirus-related symptoms.

Despite calls for him to resign over the journey – which included a trip to a local beauty spot to check the quality of his eyesight – Mr Cummings was backed by Mr Johnson and remained in his job for a further six months.

Matt Hancock left his wife and resigned as the UK Government’s health secretary on Saturday evening after he was pictured in an embrace with his aide, Gina Coladangelo, in breach of his own Covid rules.

But Mr Hancock should have done the decent thing and resigned as soon as his hypocrisy was exposed.

Failing that, Mr Johnson should have done the decent thing and fired him. It should not have taken two days for Mr Hancock to quit after the story broke.

Perhaps he felt he could brass it out, just as Mr Cummings had done.

But with the sacrifices millions of us have had to endure – with grandparents unable to hug grandchildren and sons and daughters unable to embrace care home-bound parents – it was simply untenable for Mr Hancock to remain in post.

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