Matt Hancock looks at the phone of his aide Gina Coladangelo as they leave the BBC headquarters in London. File / AFP
Gulf Today Report
Britain's Health Minister Matt Hancock has resigned after he admitted breaking COVID-19 guidance by kissing and embracing an aide in his office, angering colleagues and the public who have been living during lockdown.
The 42-year-old wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign after The Sun newspaper published photos of the married minister embracing a woman who he had appointed to a taxpayer-funded role to scrutinise the performance of his department.
Hancock has been at the centre of the government's fight against the pandemic, routinely appearing on the television and radio to tell people to follow the strict rules to contain the virus.
“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance,” he said in the letter.
Downing Street on Saturday published Hancock's resignation letter to Boris Johnson and the prime minister's response, in which he said he was sorry to receive it.
"We have worked so hard as a country to fight the pandemic," Hancock said in the letter. "The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis."
“You should be immensely proud of your service,” he wrote. “I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”
Allegations that a string of parties were held at Downing Street while the rest of the country abided by the rules have shaken Johnson's government, prompting the worst crisis of his premiership and calls for him to quit.
The British prime minister has faced a barrage of criticism and calls to quit over claims of an illegal Downing Street party on Dec.18, 2020. He has repeatedly said he was assured the gathering complied with social distancing restrictions in place at the time and has ordered an internal investigation.
Johnson is facing a stream of allegations in newspapers — all of them denied — about everything from his muddled initial handling of the COVID-19 crisis to questions over who financed the redecoration of his official apartment.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the "difficult decision” was prompted by rising infection rates in Portugal and worries about new strains of the virus that could prove resistant to vaccines. EasyJet slammed UK change to Portuguese travel as "huge blow."
Backed by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, the event played host to 500 specialised companies, unveiling the latest and most sought-after designs in watches, jewellery, and gold ornaments from around the world.
The tragedy struck the town of Qaraqosh, in a wedding hall with a capacity of “no more than 400 people,” Interior Minister Amir Al Shammari told a press conference. That night, it held in excess of 900 people, he said.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid wished the newly appointed judges success in their new roles and highlighted the importance of constantly enhancing the DIFC’s judicial framework.
The light aircraft, which reportedly belonged to RioZim, crashed in the Zvamahande area of Mashava, killing all six onboard — four foreigners and two Zimbabweans, police said. The mid-air crash is suspected to have been caused by a mechanical fault.