New health secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly keen for a swift lifting of England’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions after taking over from Matt Hancock.
Javid was appointed to the post following Hancock’s resignation over the weekend for breaching social distancing guidance.
Hancock was under pressure to quit after The Sun newspaper published photos and then video of him and aide Gina Coladangelo, who are both married with three children, kissing inside the Department of Health and Social Care early last month.
Hancock announced his resignation in a Twitter video, saying: "I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, that you have made, and those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that's why I have got to resign."
It follows a difficult few months for Hancock, in which Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, claimed he had told the prime minister to sack him “15 to 20 times”.
Cummings also claimed Johnson had sent WhatsApp messages in which he called Hancock “f***ing hopeless”.
On Friday, Hancock initially apologised after the footage was leaked, but did not immediately resign, as calls grew from Tory MPs for Johnson to sack him.
Labour says questions remained over a number of issues, including how Coladangelo – a friend of Hancock from university – was hired as an unpaid adviser, and then given a £15,000 role at the Department of Health and Social Care.
It was reported that she will also leave her role at the department.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “If anybody thinks that the resignation of Matt Hancock is the end of the issue, I think they’re wrong and I think the incoming health secretary and the prime minister now have serious questions to answer about the CCTV, about the access, the passes, the contracts.”
The government said it will launch an internal investigation into how CCTV footage of Hancock was leaked.
Hancock has also been accused of using a private Gmail account to conduct government business.
The Sunday Times reported that minutes of meetings seen by the newspaper revealed that the former health secretary had been using a private email address since March 2020, which meant that key decisions and their reasoning were not recorded or could be difficult to access for any future inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social Care insisted that all ministers conduct their government business through departmental email addresses.
Javid, a former chancellor and home secretary, is set to make his first Commons statement since returning to the Cabinet on Monday.
He said on Sunday his “most immediate priority” would be “to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible”.
While it is not expected he will bring what is left of lockdown to a close any earlier than 19 July, he is said to be confident the measures will not extend past that date.
Watch: The rise and fall of Matt Hancock