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.”
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."
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.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has received Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at the Presidential Palace in Cairo.
This year’s celebration witnessed the participation of a group of diplomatic, economic and social figures, as well as a number of businessmen, entrepreneurs and Filipino families residing in the country.
Sheikh Hamdan said that the priority of Sheikh Mohammed is to provide the best quality of life for our citizens, the best environment to raise our families, and the best economic opportunities for our youth.