It may not seem long ago that the Tory leadership candidate Matt Hancock was positioning himself as a key opponent of the frontrunner Boris Johnson, and saying ‘f*** f*** business’ in contrast to Johnson’s alleged ‘f*** business’ remark.
A key thing has changed since then though: with Johnson’s victory looking increasingly likely, Conservative MPs have begun jockeying for the Cabinet positions that will soon be available in his next government. Which may explain why Hancock, after being booted out of the leadership contest, suddenly lined up behind his former opponent, and with his eye on the Chancellor position, became a key cheerleader for Johnson in the press.
Unfortunately, Hancock’s previous remarks about Boris and his Brexit position came back to haunt him this morning, when he appeared on Radio 4 to support Johnson’s campaign.
The interview didn’t exactly start well. Channeling the question once put to Debbie McGee, presenter John Humphrys asked: ‘Just what was it about the man who is going to be, according to the odds, the next prime minister, that so appeals to you – who will want a job in his Cabinet?’ Hancock insisted that despite his previous opposition to Prime Minister Johnson, he was ‘best placed to deliver Brexit and then unite the country.’
Pressed on Boris’s ‘f*** business’ remark and his own outburst on the subject, Hancock remarkably said it was evidence of Johnson being an ‘extraordinary communicator’, telling Humphries that ‘you’ve got to look forward in life, John.’
But it was Hancock’s previous remarks on Johnson’s position on suspending parliament, through prorogation, that seemed to catch him completely out. The Health Secretary was reminded that only in June this year, he said that proroguing parliament would betray the memory of D-Day veterans, saying:
‘to deliver Brexit we should suspend our parliamentary democracy – that goes against everything those men who fought their way up those beaches died for.’
Did he still believe this? Thankfully, Hancock seems to have gotten over his qualms about suspending parliament now and felt it wasn’t an issue, as ‘I don’t think that this is where we are going to end up.’ Well that’s alright then…
Listen to the full interview here:
For some reason Mr S is reminded of the immortal Groucho Marx line: ‘These are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.’