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Matt Hancock seemed to think he could tell the British people to "do as I say, not as I do", but in the end, he was not allowed to get away with it.

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

“There is no present or future - only the past, happening over and over again - now.” ― Eugene O'Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten

I am reminded of that quote every time there is a drawn-out ministerial resignation. Matt Hancock had been caught in flagrante delicto with his mistress, Gina Coladangelo, whom he appointed as a non-executive director of the Department of Health and Social Care last year. Unlike previous decades where ministers were forced to resign if they were caught with their trousers down, in the 21st Century, marital infidelity is not enough to destroy a political career. I feel sorry for his wife and three children, as well as the husband and three children of Gina Coladangelo. That should go without saying, however, I must say it. 

From March last year, Matt Hancock looked down various camera lenses and stood at the despatch box in the House of Commons lecturing us. We have been told what to do and at times, when we can do them. He told us that we couldn't hug a close relative, even if they were dying. Many of the regulations signed into law by him as Secretary of State were inhumane. My mother celebrated her 80th birthday on 25th April. Matt Hancock told me that I couldn't give her a kiss and hug. But whilst he was telling me that, he was breaking his own rules and laws whilst cavorting with his mistress. 

He should have offered his resignation as soon as the revelations were revealed by The Sun newspaper. But he didn't. He was determined to hang on at all costs. As I said to Kevin O'Sullivan on talkRADIO on Friday evening, Hancock "has no integrity, no honour, [and] no decency about him."

To make matters worse, Boris Johnson, in what can only be described as a fit of arrogance and hubris, issued a statement saying that he accepted Hancock's apology for breaking Covid rules and that the matter was closed. But of course it wasn't: the voters of the United Kingdom made sure of that, and after another day of appalling headlines, Hancock eventually resigned.  

If he had not resigned, Hancock would no longer have been taken seriously, if indeed he was taken seriously before. He had lost all moral authority to lecture us; to tell us what to do. A laughing stock. 

The British people will put up with a lot; the last fifteen months have proved that, but what we will not put up with is rank hypocrisy. Hancock seemed to think he could tell the British people to "do as I say, not as I do", but in the end, he was not allowed to get away with it. Thank God for a free press. 


Photo Credit: Number 10 & Number 10 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Has Matt Hancock lost the plot? The Government needs reining-in

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

Has Matt Hancock lost the plot? A year ago, when flights were still landing in the UK from China, we were told that closing such routes wouldn’t make any difference. The same went for Italy. Even though hospitals were full of Covid patients, flights were still landing in the UK from those Covid hotspots. 

Now the pendulum has swung in completely the opposite direction. For lying on the Passenger Locator Form when returning from a Red List country you could be put into prison for up to ten years. 

Helpfully, ITV’s Carl Dinnen has come up with a list of offences which have a maximum sentence of ten years. They include possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, rioting, making threats to kill, administering poison so as to endanger life, indecent assault, and cruelty to children. 

Carrying a maximum five-year sentence: dealing in firearms, violent disorder, unlawful wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, abandonment of children under two, abuse of trust: sexual activity with a child.

So anyone who has sex with a child will face a sentence of five years, and someone who lies on their Passenger Locator Form faces a sentence of ten years. This is what happens when the Government views everything through a Covid lens. 

And to make matters worse, Steven Swinford, The Times’ Political Editor, has tweeted that it “looks like MPs *won't* get a vote on the 10-year sentence for travellers who lie on passenger information forms. The government is planning to use the existing forgery and counterfeiting act of 1981 to prosecute people.” 

A major change in Government policy and Parliamentarians will not be allowed a vote on it. 

In Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta, The Mikado, the title character used the phrase, “let the punishment fit the crime.” But the fictional Mikado was thirsty for more executions. He wasn’t a benevolent emperor. 

It strikes me as if we no longer have a benevolent government. Anyone who thinks that locking someone up for up to ten years for not being truthful on a Passenger Locator Form is a proportionate response needs to think again. It’s not as if those people landing in the UK won’t have to go home, self-isolate and take Covid tests. They will be watched by Government officials. 

The Government needs reining-in, and even though The Freedom Association and other campaign groups lobby for change, it is only Parliamentarians who can effect that change. The Coronavirus Act must be scrapped at the end of March, and if the Government thinks that certain restrictions need to be in place, it needs to present those arguments in Parliament and let Parliamentarians decide. It’s how a democracy is supposed to work.


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The assaults on our basic freedoms have to stop. We didn’t take back control from Brussels to hand it over ministers who can arbitrarily dictate how we lead our lives

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

To a certain extent the Government has had no option but to make it up as it goes along. None of us have experience of a virus like Covid-19. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But the Government’s latest assaults on our liberties and freedoms must be challenged. 

We are no longer a Parliamentary Democracy. That stopped months ago. But we were told that it wouldn’t be for long. All we had to do was stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We did that in the tens of millions. Roads were deserted. All but essential shops were closed. Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and bowling alleys were closed. We could only leave our homes to buy essential goods. We could exercise for an hour a day, but at least the weather was getting better, although for those of us with gardens, lockdown was far more tolerable than for those who live in blocks of flats. 

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Freedom to Vape calls on the Government to scrap vape tax plans

The Freedom Association's 'Freedom to Vape' campaign has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Health Secretary urging them to abandon plans to introduce a vape tax. 

In a joint letter to Philip Hammond and Matt Hancock signed by the Institute of Economic Affairs, TaxPayers' Alliance, Centre for Policy Studies, Adam Smith Institute, New Nicotine Alliance, UK Vaping Industry Association, and The Freedom Association, the Government was reminded that it "must continue to be an international standard-bearer for harm reduction public health policy". 

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