A lot of people will be angry at Matt Hancock today, after it was revealed by The Sun that the Health Secretary has been having an affair with his aide, Gina Coladangelo, the glamorous mother of three who is married to Oliver Tress, the founder of retailer, Oliver Bonas. The photo evidence of Hancock’s tryst is – how shall we put this? – conclusive.
Government ministers have labelled the affair “private” and a “red herring”. But that is nonsense. During the crisis the government has imposed endless draconian rules. Hugging grandparents has been banned. A blanket of Covid protocols has been thrown over normal life. Two metre social distancing is rigorously enforced. The state has forbidden casual sex.
Many will remember the Health Secretary’s awkward interview with Sky’s Kay Burley in September. The topic was “casual sex” – could we, the British public, be trusted to frolic around while the virus raged across the country? Now that would be silly and immoral, just like drinking after 10pm, having house parties, etc.
“Doing our bit”, Hancock said, “means abiding by the rules in their letter and spirit”, Hancock explained, meaning close contact only in a “well-established relationship”. When pushed on the definition of an “established relationship”, flustered Hancock was reluctant to be pinned down. “Six months? When you’ve had dinner?” Burley suggested.
Clearly wary of intervening in the minefield of modern dating, at least Hancock had his own well-established relationship with his wife, Martha Hoyer Millar, to use as an example. “I know that I’m in an established relationship,” he grinned.
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Hancock met Millar at Oxford University and they married in 2006.( He also met Coladangelo at Oxford where they both studied PPE). Mrs Hancock left the family household this morning after news of the affair broke, according to the Mail.
We don’t know if anyone was taking morality lessons from Hancock back in September. But the question raises itself once again – is it one rule for you, Matt Hancock, and another for everyone else?
The government has been using its draconian Covid social distancing and travel restrictions to restrict and police morality. While the public may well overlook his private relationships as none of their business, voters are unlikely to stomach hypocrisy.
Number 10 is, so far, silent on the Hancock scandal. The Prime MInister hates morality plays and the invasion of private lives. That’s not what this is about though. It’s about a leading figure in the government imposing extraordinary restrictions on the rest of us while carrying on inside the Department of Health.