Boris Johnson tried to hold onto Matt Hancock (no, not like that) but in the end, the pressure was too much and the Health Secretary had to resign on Saturday evening.
Johnson hates any focus on the private lives of public figures, in part because his own domestic set-up has been so colourful. He views scrutiny of private lives as petty, puritanical posturing by the press. So, the Prime Minister decided to see if Hancock could weather the storm following The Sun scoop on Friday morning. Hancock was pictured kissing an aide.
By Saturday afternoon it was clear that this story had – as it was always going to – moved well beyond being about Hancock’s infidelity. It was now a question of hypocrisy and erosion of trust. How could anyone take seriously Hancock’s strictures on Covid rules when he broke those rules? The Queen was forced to grieve alone at her husband’s funeral. Many British families endured similar distress. The government has controlled every aspect of behaviour.
On Saturday, Tory MPs and donors started to say the Health Secretary must quit. The pressure became overwhelming.
Now he has gone, another aspect of the scandal will get a lot of attention. It was a great Sun scoop. But how on earth did pictures taken inside the Department of Health manage to make it out of the building?
The suggestion is that they were not from the main CCTV system. Whitehall will have questions to answer. There has been a major security breach.