With the first Tory MP having broken ranks to call for disgraced Matt Hancock to resign, there are rumours that the next Cabinet reshuffle could be brought forward to give the Health Secretary a “dignified” departure from his job. The Mail has the story.
Boris Johnson has been toying with a planned reshuffle for months, but had recently decided to postpone it until the autumn.
However, a Tory source said the shake-up could be brought forward to next month to allow the Prime Minister to move Mr Hancock to a lower-profile role.
The Health Secretary was mercilessly mocked on social media yesterday after admitting he broke his own social distancing rules during a passionate clinch with aide Gina Coladangelo. Senior Tories fear revelations of his hypocrisy will undermine public support for continuing lockdown measures, making it “imperative” that he is moved to a new job.
One said: “I think you will see the Prime Minister bring forward his reshuffle quite quickly now. Hancock doesn’t want to quit and the PM doesn’t want to sack him, but it is quite clear that a dignified way has to be found to move him on.
“Hancock is going to find it very hard to persuade anyone to take him seriously on Covid now. But it’s clear the PM wants to reward his loyalty so another job, preferably out of the public eye, is possible.
“It was always quite likely that he would be moved from health when the reshuffle came anyway, but now it’s imperative.”
Michael Gove and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden were both tipped for a move to the Department of Health yesterday morning before the Prime Minister decided to stand by Mr Hancock. Mr Johnson has also considered Trade Secretary Liz Truss for the role.
Some Tory MPs were pushing for Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi to get the job after orchestrating the successful jabs rollout.
Mr Zahawi yesterday backed his boss to stay, telling reporters: “The Secretary of State has apologised and has said everything he needs to say.” Former Tory leader William Hague also backed the decision to keep Mr Hancock in his post for now.
Worth reading in full.