From watching Matt Hancock during the 2019 General Election campaign, I decided that I didn’t think particularly highly of him. He struck me as someone who hasn’t met a senior Tory arse that he has not felt duty-bound to lick. Running around the country for Boris, and in nearly every place, the same line of “I’ve never been here before, it’s 5am, I’ve got my coffee with me and I’m really looking forward to meeting the people of *checks notes* this place”. He was fooling nobody with the 5am line, it was clearly much later in the morning, but what was also plain to see, is that Mr Hancock is a hard worker. It is that ethic that has led me to soften my attitude towards him. He is clearly exhausted and “working flat out”, according to Labour’s Mancunian mayor, Andy Burnham. The low bar that has been set by the government is readily apparent if the best person handling the crisis obtains that stature by simply taking their responsibility to the nation seriously.
Hancock is not the most senior of cabinet ministers. Many outrank him. Gove, Raab and Johnson are the Beastie Boys of Westminster, and Dominic Cummings is their manager. The whole band have the capacity to overrule the groupie, little Matty. And that is seemingly exactly what they did. Hancock was vocal against the idea of the “win some lose some” herd immunity suggestion allegedly put forward by Classic Dom. Hancock was keen to get the fact that he was onboard with the EU procurement scheme at the Daily Press Briefing yesterday, claiming that he initially agreed and that now they were part of the scheme despite not receiving any of it. So why was he on Question Time last month saying, “we have received the invitation” and “we have engaged with the process” whilst being very careful not slip up and say that they had not actually accepted it. So why weren’t they in the scheme? Ah, an email error. The political equivalent of “I had the message typed out and forgot to press send”. That was the line until yesterday, when Simon McDonald came out at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, “All I can say as a matter of fact is that we have not taken part… It was a political decision.” And then the band manager intervened. The ideal that politics and administration should remain separate merely an illusion. Not good enough, sir. To admit you were wrong is to admit that you lied to the committee. To admit you were wrong is to cower. To admit you were wrong is wilting to the beckon call of these born to rule Eton elite clique who view leaving the EU as more important than protecting its people during a pandemic. He will have lost the respect of his staff, his colleagues, and the foreign governments who he has dealt with for years. What a legacy to leave behind. “I inadvertently and wrongly told the committee… this is incorrect.” Someone fetch Simon a pair of flipflops. Or better yet, a P45.
As MP Chris Bryant said, the Tories are “trotting out every excuse” now that they realised they have messed up in the procurement of PPE for those on the frontline. If Ed Davey is to be believed, there will be an investigation into the whole saga, which likely will reflect poorly on a government headed by a man who would rather put his feet up for a few weeks rather than attend 5 COBRA meetings. There will have to be a blood sacrifice. Sacking a civil servant is a huge undertaking, so the vultures will circle above a man who is utterly exhausted and looks as though if you touch him, he might just break. An annoying whitehead on Boris’s face. Pop. Squeeze. Gone. Although Boris has openly backed Matty, Hancock’s head could well be the first on the chopping block. Gove, Raab and Johnson screaming “SABOTAGEEEEE” as Cummings brings down his axe.