Matt Hancock living alone as he battles to save ministerial career

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Matt Hancock - Greg Brennan
Matt Hancock - Greg Brennan

It is a measure of the brutal nature of politics that scarcely a month has passed since Matt Hancock’s resignation, yet he already has the air of a figure from history.

The former Health Secretary risked everything to pursue an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo, and four weeks after it was so humiliatingly exposed, the future of his relationship with her, as well as the future of his career, appears to be up in the air.

Mr Hancock has not given up hope of rescuing his ministerial career, and in recent days has begun to re-engage with fellow MPs via a backbenchers’ WhatsApp group in what colleagues interpreted as an attempt to test the water.

“It was the first time he had popped up on the WhatsApp group since he resigned,” said one Tory MP. “He was thanking people for their support after he quit, and everyone was very nice to him, saying well done on the vaccine programme.”

There was no sign of contrition, however, from Mr Hancock, who was blamed for the Tories’ narrow defeat in the Batley and Spen by-election, which came days after the scandal over his affair.

Fellow MPs say Mr Hancock had even contemplated ending his self-imposed exile by attending last week’s Spectator magazine party, the highlight of the Conservative summer party season, but was advised by wiser heads to stay at home after they told him it was “too soon”.

Allies of Mr Hancock, however, insist he is a long way away from any thoughts of a ministerial return. 

He has been lying low in his Suffolk constituency, where he has regular visits from his children, and goes on regular long-distance runs with the hope of competing in a marathon in the near future.

He is also having to settle into the life of a backbench MP, stripped of the trappings of office, and will need to win round voters and members of his association who were fond of his wife, Martha. 

It was she who “kept the home fires burning”, allies say, by playing the role of the loyal and hard-working MP’s wife while Mr Hancock was pursuing bigger things as Health Secretary. 

Having thrown her over for Ms Coladangelo, he faces a battle to shore up support in West Suffolk, and has begun by campaigning for a cinema to be built in Newmarket.

Last week he was photographed picking up belongings from his former marital home in London, including a coffee machine and a bin bag which appeared to be full of clothes.

Watch: Did the UK get the Covid-19 vaccine faster thanks to Brexit?

Mr Hancock, 42, is also having to adjust to not only losing his £67,500 ministerial salary, but also the prospect of having to pay a large chunk of his remaining backbench MP’s salary of £82,000 to his wife Martha if, as expected, they divorce.

Despite reports that Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo had moved in together, they are not yet living under the same roof, though Mr Hancock has told friends they remain in a serious relationship.

Friends of Ms Coladangelo, 43, believe the mother of three might yet try to save her marriage to wealthy businessman Oliver Tress.

She is understood to have stayed living with her children, though whether her husband is also with her is unclear - the couple have a £4m home in London as well as a weekend home in West Sussex. At no point have she and Mr Hancock lived together.

Mr Hancock remains hopeful, friends say, of setting up home with Ms Coladangelo, but she has much to lose: her husband, the founder of the Oliver Bonas retail chain, is reputed to be worth £12 million, and is also her employer. 

While she was working part time as an adviser to Mr Hancock, she was also marketing and communications director for Oliver Bonas.

Mr Tress, her second husband, is also the father of her three children.

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock resigned on June 26, two days after The Sun newspaper published leaked CCTV photographs of him and Ms Coladangelo in a passionate embrace in his ministerial office, above.

He admitted breaking social distancing rules and apologised to his family for “putting them through this”. He told friends he had ended his 15-year marriage to Martha, an osteopath.

Ms Coladangelo, like Martha Hancock, was a university friend of the former minister, and worked on the same student radio station as him as well as studying the same course, politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.

Watch: How To Raise An Olympian: Bea Ortiz

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting