Saturday, 26 Nov 2022

Matt Hancock faces being barred from standing in next election

Scandal-hit Matt Hancock faces being barred from standing in the next election if he fails to regain the whip before December 5

  • Tories have to tell party headquarters by December 5 if standing in next election
  • Hancock unlikely to have whip restored by then after coming home from jungle
  • It comes as opposition to his return grows in his constituency of West Suffolk
  • Many of his constituents just want an MP working for them and feel let down 

Scandal-hit Matt Hancock faces being barred from standing in the next election if he fails to regain the whip before December 5. 

Tories have to tell their party headquarters by December 5 if they want to apply again to stand in their current seat or a new constituency for the next election. The new constituency will be created by boundary changes coming into effect. 

Hancock, who is currently in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in Australia and last year quit his job as health secretary for breaking his own coronavirus rules after he was caught in a passionate clinch with an aide who is now his girlfriend, is unlikely to have the whip restored by then.

The date is a week after he would return from taking part in the show if he was to make it to the final. After December 5, if the whip is restored, there may be some flexibility in allowing Hancock to apply to run in the next election-this is because decisions are not final.

However, given that the mood has changed in his constituency, he would not get guaranteed approval from residents. Speaking to the Times, Conservative sources explained that when the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries went on the show, it took six months to restore the whip- at the time she was a more junior MP than Hancock. 

The former health secretary’s constituency association in West Suffolk would need to choose a new candidate. However, he would still be sitting as an independent and it comes as opposition to his return grows in his constituency.

Members have asked the local association about the process that will occur when he comes back from the popular reality show.  This is even though his allies say he is getting a positive reception across the UK for his appearance on the programme.

By December 5, Tories have to tell their party headquarters if they want to apply again to stand in their current seat or a new constituency for the next election. Hancock is unlikely to have the whip restored by then

The date is a week after he would return from taking part in the show if he was to make it to the final. After December 5, if the whip is restored, there may be some flexibility in allowing Hancock to apply to run in the next election-this is because decisions are not final. However, given that the mood has changed in his constituency, he would not get guaranteed approval from residents

A spokesman for the West Suffolk Conservative Association said: ‘We don’t propose to add to our previous statement, however the mood in the constituency is one of increasing disappointment and we feel very let down.’

A source said: ‘It seems clear that he’s decided he won’t be the candidate at the next election anyway so he’s gone off to make some money.

‘That’s fine. But then he should stand down so the party can start selecting someone else. If I was Simon Hart [the chief whip] I’d be asking whether Matt’s actions warrant returning the whip.’

Another Tory source said that constituents feel abandoned by Matt Hancock and just want an MP working for them. They described Hancock’s ’embarrassing antics’ and said ‘there is not the support at all, really.’

By December 5, Tory MPs have to tell their party headquarters if they want to apply again to stand in their current seat or a new constituency for the next election. Beleaguered Hancock, who is currently in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in Australia, is unlikely to have the whip restored by then

Speaking to the Times , Conservative sources explained that when the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries went on the show, it took six months to restore the whip. At the time she was a more junior MP than Hancock. The former health secretary’s constituency association in West Suffolk would need to choose a new candidate. However, he would still be sitting as an independent

Meanwhile, a Tory councillor in his seat, Ian Houlder, 73, has said he will stand against Hancock if the whip is restored.  

The 73-year-old, for the Barrow ward, said: ‘If he manages to wiggle out of all this stuff and gets back in the good books of the Conservative Party in Westminster and he stands in 2024/25, I’ll have a punt and lose £500 getting my nomination and go against him.’

 Meanwhile, a Tory councillor in his seat, Ian Houlder, 73, pictured, has said he will stand against Hancock if the whip is restored

Houlder, 73, said: ‘Hancock’s got such a thick skin and big ego that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he doesn’t go back to the whip’s office and says ‘I’ve turned over a new leaf, please take me back’ and all the rest of it.

The 73-year-old explained that he had ‘loads of emails’ from West Suffolk Conservatives and across the country when he was the only district councillor to call him out and was surprised he was the only one.  

He attended a broadcast of Piers Morgan Uncensored on TalkTV from a pub in Hancock’s constituency last week. The 73-year-old said that people there were all against him but thought he would be better as a constituency MP.   

The 73-year-old hopes Hancock will stand down. Although he knows he would be a ‘one trick pony’ standing against Hancock, his sole policy would be keeping him out. 

He described the situation in the same way as Richard Taylor, elected in Wyre Forest after he campaigned for one policy. The policy was restoring the accident and emergency department at Kidderminster Hospital. 

Elsewhere, Matt Hancock’s spokesman reiterated a point he made in the jungle, that he can still be contacted for urgent constituency matters while there.

His spokesman said: ‘The second reading of Matt’s Dyslexia Screening and Teacher Training Bill is just days after I’m A Celebrity finishes.

‘As soon as Matt’s time in camp is up he will return to Suffolk to hold surgeries where he will catch up with his constituents and discuss matters of concern.’

Elsewhere, Matt Hancock’s spokesman reiterated a point he made in the jungle, that he can still be contacted for urgent constituency matters while there

It comes after Matt Hancock denied he broke the law by having an affair with a close aide during lockdown that destroyed his political career.

The 43-year-old was forced to quit last June after CCTV images showed him in an embrace with his married lover Gina Coladangelo, 44, inside the Department of Health during the height of the pandemic.

But speaking to a business podcast in February, he said the relationship started ‘quite quickly’ after legal social distancing curbs were lifted and replaced by guidance. 

Speaking to The Diary of a CEO podcast, Mr Hancock said he ‘fell in love’ with Coladangelo after bringing her in to work with him. 

He told the podcast host, entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den investor Steven Bartlett: ‘It actually happened after the rules were lifted, but the guidance was still in place. I resigned because I broke the social distancing guidelines by then.

‘They weren’t actually rules. They weren’t the law. But that’s not the point.

‘The point is they were the guidelines that I’d been proposing. And that happened because I fell in love with somebody.’ 

People had to stay two metres apart from anyone outside their household or bubble, under the guidance at the time. 

Mr Hancock stressed that his relationship with Miss Coladangelo was serious, saying he hated that some had ‘got the impression somehow that this was [casual sex]’.

The father-of-three expressed his regret at the pain that the affair had caused after it triggered the breakdown of his 15-year marriage to wife Martha to be with Miss Coladangelo – who was also married with three children.

He added that he had known Miss Coladangelo for ‘more than half of my life’ since first working together on the student radio at Oxford University.

She was brought by him into the health department for help with ‘public communications’.

Mr Hancock said: ‘We spent a lot of time together, ironically, trying to get me to be able to communicate in a more emotionally intelligent way.

‘And we fell in love. And that’s something that was completely outside of my control.’

He also admitted the Government knew some measures it took during the pandemic were ‘very damaging’.

Mr Hancock found himself in hot water in January this year after stripping off for a bracing winter swim in Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake

Mr Hancock was forced to quit the Cabinet last year after CCTV from his Whitehall office was leaked which showed him kissing his married aide in breach of Covid social-distancing guidance. The pair continued dating after their affair was exposed. 

The podcast interview came after Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo were pictured together at the Brit Awards in London.

One reveller told The Sun that Mr Hancock had been mobbed by spectators and was ‘treated like some sort of rock God’.

They said the couple were ‘kissing quite a bit, and are clearly pretty smitten with one another’.

Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo were pictured together last September as they headed out for dinner with friends during a romantic getaway to the Swiss Alps.

The couple stayed at a £87-a-night hotel tucked away in the mountains in the village of Villars-sur-Ollon, near Montreux.

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