The prime minister wants no one in his cabinet to pay for their mistakes, a strategy that has failed
The departure of Matt Hancock from the cabinet is not the end of the matter. It may only be the beginning. Boris Johnson swiftly appointed former chancellor Sajid Javid to replace Mr Hancock, who resigned a day after pictures showing him kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo at work in breach of the government’s social distancing regulations. Yet the whole business raises questions about how government works, who it is in office to serve and risks eroding confidence in public health measures.
In breaking his own pandemic rules Mr Hancock diminished the public’s willingness to adhere to lockdown guidelines. He thought he could apologise and move on. But clearly nothing less than his resignation would restore trust in the government’s ability to manage the pandemic, which is vital as it underpins public attitudes and behaviours. There is such a thing as trust and respect in politics. They make a difference, despite Mr Johnson setting no store by them.