Matt Hancock: the Teflon-coated survivor with flexible politics | Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock: the Teflon-coated survivor with flexible politics | Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock was chief of staff to George Osborne when the Conservatives were in opposition, before entering parliament in 2010 as the MP for West Suffolk, and is a rare cabinet hangover from the Cameron set.

Unlike Cameron and Osborne, Hancock, still just 42, has remained in Westminster as the Brexit referendum has sent shock waves through British politics over the past five years.

He had a short-lived stint as culture secretary from January 2018, revelling in the opportunity it gave him to highlight his knowledge of the tech scene – and memorably videoing himself trying out the sport of parkour.

Hancock was made health secretary in July 2018 by Theresa May, when Boris Johnson resigned as foreign secretary over her Brexit deal, and Jeremy Hunt was given that role. Johnson then kept him on in his first reshuffle.

As health secretary, Hancock has come under intense pressure over his handling of the Covid response, in particular the procurement of PPE for health workers, and the discharging of hospital patients into care homes during the early days of the pandemic.

He was attacked relentlessly by Johnson’s embittered former aide Dominic Cummings at a recent committee hearing. Cummings claimed he had repeatedly lied about what the Department of Health could achieve during the crisis, to the extent that even the politically neutral cabinet secretary had questioned his position.

But Hancock defended himself against the claims, insisting he had done everything he could to protect the public. The health select committee chair, Hunt, subsequently suggested none of the evidence Cummings had produced showed definitively that Hancock had lied.

Hancock, who once created his own eponymous app, is regarded by colleagues as having flexible political views and Teflon-coated self-regard.

He stood to be Conservative leader in 2019 under the slogan Let’s Move Forward, receiving 20 votes in the first round. He then dropped out and supported Johnson, despite being a remainer.

Hancock said at the time he had received assurances from Johnson that he would govern as a One Nation Conservative, and went on to praise the now prime minister lavishly in a series of media appearances during the campaign – a move some colleagues attributed to his desire to stay in cabinet.

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