Cabinet reshuffle 'will be brought forward to next month'

Cabinet reshuffle will be brought forward to next month to give Matt Hancock a ‘dignified’ exit from job as Health Secretary, Tory sources claim

  • Boris Johnson has been toying with a planned reshuffle for months, source say
  • However, a Tory source now says the shake-up could be brought forward to next month to allow the Prime Minister to move Mr Hancock to a lower-profile role
  • It comes after Hancock admitted he broke his own Covid social distancing laws 
  • He was caught on CCTV in a passionate clinch with aide Gina Coladangelo

Plans for a Cabinet reshuffle will be brought forward to give Matt Hancock a ‘dignified’ departure from his job, Tory sources said last night.

Boris Johnson has been toying with a planned reshuffle for months, but had recently decided to postpone it until the autumn.

However, a Tory source said the shake-up could be brought forward to next month to allow the Prime Minister to move Mr Hancock to a lower-profile role.

The Health Secretary was mercilessly mocked on social media yesterday after admitting he broke his own social distancing rules during a passionate clinch with aide Gina Coladangelo. Senior Tories fear revelations of his hypocrisy will undermine public support for continuing lockdown measures, making it ‘imperative’ that he is moved to a new job.

The Health Secretary was mercilessly mocked on social media yesterday after admitting he broke his own social distancing rules during a passionate clinch with aide Gina Coladangelo

One said: ‘I think you will see the Prime Minister bring forward his reshuffle quite quickly now. Hancock doesn’t want to quit and the PM doesn’t want to sack him, but it is quite clear that a dignified way has to be found to move him on.

‘Hancock is going to find it very hard to persuade anyone to take him seriously on Covid now. But it’s clear the PM wants to reward his loyalty so another job, preferably out of the public eye, is possible.

‘It was always quite likely that he would be moved from health when the reshuffle came anyway, but now it’s imperative.’

Boris Johnson (pictured on Wednesday) has been toying with a planned reshuffle for months, but had recently decided to postpone it until the autumn

Michael Gove and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden were both tipped for a move to the Department of Health yesterday morning before the Prime Minister decided to stand by Mr Hancock. Mr Johnson has also considered Trade Secretary Liz Truss for the role.

Some Tory MPs were pushing for vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi to get the job after orchestrating the successful jabs rollout.

Mr Zahawi yesterday backed his boss to stay, telling reporters: ‘The Secretary of State has apologised and has said everything he needs to say.’ Former Tory leader William Hague also backed the decision to keep Mr Hancock in his post for now.

Lord Hague told Times Radio: ‘He is now a very, very experienced Health Secretary, taking day-to-day decisions. Is it actually the best thing for the country to tell somebody else to start this job tomorrow morning? I don’t think it is, actually. And I think that’s what probably large numbers of people think.’

Pictured: Gina Coladangelo (left) at the V&A Summer Party, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2019 (file photo). A Tory source said the shake-up could be brought forward to next month to allow the Prime Minister to move Mr Hancock to a lower-profile role after the clinch

Mr Hancock has faced concerted pressure in recent weeks following claims by former No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings that he lied to the PM about the testing of patients being discharged to care homes at the height of the pandemic last year.

In a bombshell appearance before MPs, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser said the Health Secretary should have been fired for ‘at least 15 to 20 things – including lying to everybody on multiple occasions’.

Mr Cummings said the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill had also pressed for Mr Hancock to be sacked, and suggested the PM had considered it on a number of occasions.

Mr Cummings also released WhatsApp messages, apparently from Mr Johnson, in which the Prime Minister calls the Health Secretary ‘hopeless’.

Mr Hancock denied lying, saying he had ‘been straight with people in public and in private throughout’. He has pushed to stay in the job, even bringing forward controversial legislation that will hand him more power over the NHS.

Tory sources said Mr Johnson had already been planning to move Mr Hancock to a new role when the pandemic ended.

One said: ‘Hancock has been the face of the pandemic – you need a new face for the next phase.’

But the planned reshuffle was delayed, partly because of the PM’s reluctance to give a scalp to Mr Cummings, who has said Mr Johnson is ‘not fit’ to run the country.

Mr Johnson has not held a reshuffle since appointing his government after his 2019 election win.

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