As the controversial Conservative politician takes part in a reality TV show, we retrace his career to date, in two parts.
The most divisive contestant on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!”, Matt Hancock MP, has also written a book called Pandemic Diaries, due to be published in December 2022. I wonder if he is simply seeking to extend his fifteen minutes of fame, or rehabilitate his image? With that in mind, in this, the first part of our brief overview of his political career, we look at the period from 2010 to 2019.
2010 to 2012 – humble beginnings
Matt Hancock was elected as MP for West Suffolk in 2010. He served on both the Public Accounts Committee and on the Standards and Privileges Committee. In 2012, he became the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills. Also in 2012, he became the first sitting politician in history to win a horse race. The race was for charity.
2013 to 2016 – pre Brexit
2013: Hancock was accused of dishonesty by Matt Barbett, host of ‘Daybreak’, after claiming he was unfairly blocked by the producers for being “30 seconds late”. Hancock later posted a correction on twitter. At this time he joined the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as the Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise where he promoted apprenticeships.
2014: Hancock became Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, as well as the Minister of State for Portsmouth. Later that year, he became the Minister of State for Energy.
It was during this time he faced criticism regarding climate change when he hired a private jet to fly back from a climate conference and for supporting fracking. These culminated in his causing controversy for accepting donations totalling £18,000 from a climate change sceptic. He also apologised for retweeting a poem that suggested the Labour Party were ‘full of queers.’ He described it as an ‘accident’.
2016 to 2017: Digital and Culture, broadband, and a musical conference
2016: Under Theresa May Hancock was appointed Minister of State for Digital and Culture. During his time in office he recommitted to, and achieved, the target of over 97% of the UK having superfast broadband.
2017: Matt Hancock was videoed singing Karaoke at the Conservative Party Conference. The video would be used a few years later by Piers Morgan during the refusal of ministers to be on GMTV.
2018 to 2019: Two promotions, moonwalking, and parkour
2018: In January Hancock was promoted to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. On his first day he criticised the BBC for the pay levels of its foreign journalists.
In February Matt Hancock became the first Member of Parliament to launch his own mobile app to allow him to communicate with constituents. It was dubbed a ‘comedy of errors’ when it emerged that the app would access subscribers’ data and pictures, and was mocked on Twitter.
In June Matt Hancock was filmed learning to moonwalk at the opening of a Michael Jackson exhibition. On 2 July he was shown attempting free running or parkour. A week later he was appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care for England and Wales.
In November Hancock was accused of breaching the ministerial code for seeming to promote a subscription mobile health app in an interview in the Evening Standard.
2019: in April, Matt Hancock faced criticism for allowing NHS contracts worth £127m to be offered for tender.
After the 2019 General Election, Boris Johnson entered Downing Street with an 80 seat majority. Matt Hancock remained Health Secretary.
His actions after that election will be covered in Part 2.