Sajid Javid ‘honoured’ to take over as Health Secretary as Matt Hancock resigns over Covid rule breach
Sajid Javid has said he is “honoured” to take over as Health Secretary after Matt Hancock resigned from the role after being caught kissing a close aide in his ministerial office.
Mr Javid’s appointment came the day after footage emerged of the married then Health Secretary in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo in a breach of social distancing rules.
A return to the top of politics
The former Chancellor and Home Secretary was appointed to the role just 90 minutes after Downing Street announced Mr Hancock had resigned on Saturday (26 June) evening.
Mr Javid’s appointment marks his return to the top of politics after he abruptly left the Cabinet 16 months ago.
The new Health Secretary was just six months into his role as Chancellor, and less than a month away from delivering his first Budget, when he announced he was quitting the role after being told to sack all of his advisers and replace them with a joint No 10/No 11 unit.
Mr Javid was the shortest-serving Chancellor since Iain Macleod, who died shortly after taking office in 1970, according to the Institute for Government.
'Honoured' to take on the role
Announcing his return to Boris Johnson’s top team, Mr Javid said he was ‘honoured’ to be asked to take on the role.
In a tweet, he wrote: “Honoured to have been asked to serve as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at this critical time.
“I look forward to contributing to our fight against the pandemic, and serving my country from the Cabinet once again.”
Mr Javid will take over with several huge tasks to deal with, including completing the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and tackling the huge backlog for treatments.
Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Sajid Javid failed to reverse the previous eight years of social care cuts or deliver the investment our NHS needed in his time as chancellor of the Exchequer.
“He now needs to explain how he will bring down sky-high waiting lists, ensure people get the cancer care they need, get young people vital mental health support and crucially fix social care, which has suffered swingeing cuts under the Conservatives.”
Hancock resigns over Covid breach
Mr Hancock wrote to Mr Johnson on Saturday stating had let the people of the country down by breaching guidance.
He said: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.
“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. I also need to be with my children at this time.
“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.”
Mr Hancock paid tribute to NHS staff and DHSC officials and admitted that “we didn’t get every decision right”.
In a video posted on Twitter, he added: “I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”
In response to Mr Hancock’s letter, the Prime Minister said the former Health Secretary should be “very proud” of what he achieved in the role, both during and before the pandemic.
Mr Johnson added: “Above all, it has been your task to deal with a challenge greater than that faced by any of your predecessors, and in fighting Covid you have risen to that challenge – with the abundant energy, intelligence, and determination that are your hallmark.”
Mrs Coladangelo is also understood to have left her role at the Department of Health following Matt Hancock’s resignation.
Labour has called for all documents on her appointment in the department to be released, after she first came in as an unpaid adviser and was later given a £15,000 per year job as a non-executive director.