Matt Hancock and his lover Gina Coladangelo are dragged into Downing Street’s Partygate row as it emerges they were at Number 10’s ‘cheese and wine’ gathering on the same day ex-Health Secretary told Britons to keep two metres apart
- Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo were at a lockdown-busting party in Number 10’s garden in May 2020
- The controversial ‘cheese and wine’ gathering is under investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray
- Pictures of the event held in the No 10 garden appear to show Mr Hancock in a group with Ms Coladangelo
Matt Hancock and his lover Gina Coladangelo have been dragged into Downing Street’s ‘partygate’ row after it emerged they were at a ‘cheese and wine’ gathering with Boris Johnson during the first national lockdown.
Mr Hancock, who was then Health Secretary, is to be quizzed in the next few days about the event by Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating whether Covid restrictions were broken by members of the Government at a series of alleged parties. Ms Coladangelo has indicated that she is also prepared to be interviewed as part of the inquiry.
A picture of the event, which was held in the No 10 garden on May 15, 2020, appears to show Mr Hancock talking in a group that included Ms Coladangelo.
Matt Hancock and his lover Gina Coladangelo, pictured left, have been dragged into the ‘cheese and wine’ gathering scandal which took place in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street on May 15, 2020
Matt Hancock was in the Downing Street garden on the evening of the Number 10 ‘cheese and wine’ gathering but is unable to say if he is pictured in a leaked photograph which showed aides chatting
Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo are believed to with the group of people standing in a group at the far end of the garden. PM Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and his then aide Dominic Cummings were photographed sitting around a table with a bottle of wine, some cheese and several glasses
The hunt is on for the so-called ‘snappy rat’. The Treasury angrily denied it was responsible, with a source saying: ‘It was not anyone in the No 11 team. That room is accessible to anyone working in Downing Street’
At the time, people were only allowed to socialise outside with one other and they had to keep apart. Thousands could not see dying loved ones in hospital or in care homes.
Earlier on May 15 at a press conference, Mr Hancock ordered the public: ‘You can meet one other person from outside your household in an outdoor, public place. But please keep two metres apart.’
Ms Coladangelo was working as an unpaid adviser to Mr Hancock, who is married with three children, at the Health Department. News of their closer relationship emerged 13 months later when CCTV footage showing them kissing was leaked to the newspapers.
Last night, a source close to Mr Hancock said the garden event was held ‘a long time before anything happened between’ Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo, and that she had attended along with other advisers after debriefing the Prime Minister’.
The source added: ‘It’s impossible to say with any certainty who the blurred figures in the photo are. What we can confirm is that Ms Coladangelo was an adviser to the Health Secretary at the time and part of the team that accompanied Mr Hancock to the Downing Street Press Conference that day. After the press conference finished at 5.53pm, Mr Hancock’s team went to the Downing Street garden to debrief the Prime Minister.
‘Ms Coladangelo left with Mr Hancock and other members of his team at 6.32pm. There is no suggestion Ms Coladangelo or Mr Hancock did anything wrong, but both will obviously gladly help with any investigation. Ms Coladangelo – like the rest of Mr Hancock’s team – was doing her job, helping vital public health communications in the teeth of a global pandemic’.
The leaked image of the garden gathering shows Mr Johnson and his then fiancee Carrie Symonds sitting at a table with cheese and wine and in the company of advisers including Dominic Cummings. Seventeen people can be seen huddled in groups in the background.
Mr Johnson defended the event by saying: ‘This is where I live, this is where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.’ But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘To suggest that it is a work meeting is a bit of a stretch by anybody’s analysis.’ Twitter users contrasted the photo with their own stories of being separated from loved ones at the time.
It is one of at least a dozen gatherings reportedly held across Whitehall despite Covid restrictions, including an event inside No 10 on December 18, 2020 with prize-givings, cheese and wine and music, that went on until 2am. No 10 denies the event was a Christmas party.
Ms Gray has caused tremors in No 10 and beyond by emailing more than a dozen people, including Mr Hancock, about the events. She took over the investigation from Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, after it emerged that a Christmas party had been held in his own office during lockdown.
Mr Hancock, who has been tipped by some senior Tories for an unlikely political comeback by running for leader if Mr Johnson resigns or is ousted by party rebels, is said by friends to be ‘very happily’ building a new life with Ms Coladangelo.
Was Downing Street lockdown ‘party’ snap taken from No 11 balcony? Claims picture was shot outside rooms used by Treasury staff – as Raab says it was captured by someone with ‘an animus’ against PM
By James Gant and Rory Tingle for MailOnline
A photograph exposing Boris Johnson, his wife and his aides at a lockdown-busting Downing Street gathering last summer was taken from a room used by Rishi Sunak and his team, it was claimed.
Sources said the picture of the supposed party was likely captured near one of the state rooms used by the Chancellor and his staffers.
Meanwhile former shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed the image was shot from ‘the 11 Downing Street first floor balcony’, which is thought to be outside Mr Sunak’s office.
It comes as names for some of those at the event – where guests drank wine and dined out on a cheeseboard – were put forward.
The revellers apparently included some of Mr Johnson’s top team – such as his principal private secretary, his private secretary and his political secretary.
Dominic Raab defended the Government this morning after the picture emerged last night of the ‘party’ during the first national lockdown.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary stressed the garden was a ‘place of work’ and sometimes staff would have a ‘drink after a long day or a long week’.
The photo, obtained by the Guardian, showed Mr Johnson, his then-fiancee Carrie, and 17 other staff members in the garden on May 15, 2020, with bottles of wine and a cheeseboard on a table in front of the PM.
The PM and his wife – apparently holding their newborn baby Wilf – were seen sitting at a table with two people, while another four were pictured with bottles of alcohol at a nearby table and the rest on the lawn.
At the time – Friday May 15, 2020 – only two people were allowed to socialise outside, which has infuriated anti-lockdown politicians and Britons who suffered under tight restrictions.
Insiders claimed the angle of the photograph being just above the terrace at the back of 10 Downing Street suggested it was taken from one of the rooms used by Mr Sunak and his team.
One told MailOnline the picture was most likely shot next to some state rooms used by the Chancellor and his team for ‘ceremonial duties’.
Meanwhile former shadow chancellor of the exchequer and economic secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls tweeted he was ‘pretty sure’ it was taken from the No 11 first floor balcony.
Will Partygate blow up Boris’ Red Wall? Tory MPs panic as support plunges over ‘rule-breaking’ at Downing Street and voter trust in the PM wanes – with Rishi Sunak backed to take over
BY GLENN OWEN
The mid-term crash in support for the Conservatives in the 57 seats Boris Johnson gained in 2019 has led to panic among MPs who fear that they are doomed to sit in the Commons for only one term.
The results of today’s Mail on Sunday poll are likely to fan the frenzy of bitching and back- stabbing that dominates messaging sites used by the MPs as they speculate about which of them would be most likely to lose if an Election were held tomorrow – and debate whether to submit letters of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.
Our Deltapoll survey backs up anecdotal evidence from the MPs – dominated by the so-called Red Wallers who seized former Labour strongholds – that Mr Johnson has become a drag on their fortunes.
One told this newspaper: ‘I keep hearing the same line on the doorstep – ‘I’d support you if you got rid of your boss’.’
When asked if Mr Johnson was ‘doing well’, only 34 per cent of voters in the seats agree, while 62 per cent disagree, a net rating of minus 28. By comparison, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer scores minus 6.
Sir Keir wins the ‘best Prime Minister’ rating, on 38 per cent, while Mr Johnson gets 33 per cent. The Labour double act of Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is also preferred to Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, by 40 per cent to 33 per cent.
Sir Keir wins the ‘best Prime Minister’ rating, on 38 per cent, while Mr Johnson gets 33 per cent. The Labour double act of Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is also preferred to Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, by 40 per cent to 33 per cent
The results of today’s Mail on Sunday poll are likely to fan the frenzy of bitching and back- stabbing that dominates messaging sites used by the MPs as they speculate about which of them would be most likely to lose if an Election were held tomorrow – and debate whether to submit letters of no-confidence in the Prime Minister
The poll found that nearly six in ten of swing voters – 58 per cent – do not expect Mr Johnson to be Prime Minister this time next year. The survey also backs claims by new Tory MPs that the rising cost of living, driven by higher energy and fuel bills, is hammering support for the Conservatives in these swing seats
The rows over claims that parties were held in Downing Street in breach of Covid rules appear to have ‘cut through’ to voters in the critical seats, with Mr Johnson personally identified with public anger over the issue.
Only 16 per cent of voters in the seats think Mr Johnson obeyed the rules, while 72 per cent think he did not – and 65 per cent think he should resign if the Cabinet Office’s investigation into the events during lockdown concludes that he broke the rules.
The poll found that nearly six in ten of swing voters – 58 per cent – do not expect Mr Johnson to be Prime Minister this time next year. The survey also backs claims by new Tory MPs that the rising cost of living, driven by higher energy and fuel bills, is hammering support for the Conservatives in these swing seats.
Forty per cent say their household finances are in a worse state since Mr Johnson became PM, with only 12 per cent better off. More ominously for the party, 41 per cent think they will deteriorate further this year.
‘Trust’ is a theme which runs through the poll – a majority, 53 per cent, don’t trust Mr Johnson to grow the economy; 67 per cent don’t trust him to ‘level up’ income differences around the country; 68 per cent don’t trust Boris to help the poorest and 74 per cent don’t trust him to tell the truth.
One of the most common complaints of disgruntled Tory MPs is that No10 is concentrating on issues, such as the environment, of marginal concern to voters.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Lee Anderson, the Tory MP for Ashfield, says the Government’s achievements, such as its investment in the NHS, ‘are being outweighed by the huge rises in the cost of living coming down the track, through higher energy bills, which my voters care far more about than the platitudes spouted about the ‘green agenda’ by the wealthy elite who flew into the COP26 summit in private planes’.
He adds: ‘I know from conversations with the Prime Minister that he gets it – but I am not convinced everyone in his inner circle does. If we deliver on people’s priorities – rather than what we think are people’s priorities – then there is no reason why we cannot make further gains in the next Election’.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Lee Anderson (pictured), the Tory MP for Ashfield, says the Government’s achievements, such as its investment in the NHS, ‘are being outweighed by the huge rises in the cost of living coming down the track, through higher energy bills
The poll appears to back up his assertion, with the environment coming sixth among voters’ priorities behind Covid, supporting the NHS, the cost of living, the economy and immigration.
If Mr Johnson does leave No10, Red Wall voters have a clear successor in mind. Mr Sunak comes top, on 18 per cent, way ahead of Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, who comes joint second with his predecessor Jeremy Hunt. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the favourite of party members, is joint fifth on 3 per cent, along with Deputy PM Dominic Raab and former health secretary Matt Hancock.
Joe Twyman, co-founder and director of Deltapoll, said: ‘The Conservative victory in 2019 was due, in no small part, to winning over voters in seats where the party had not previously been successful. The data, however, show the task Boris Johnson faces to hold on to the seats that were gained in 2019.
‘With recent controversies still fresh in the mind of voters and a number of important issues to address, the new year may not be a happy one for the Prime Minister.’
The firm polled 1,567 adults online from December 23 to 30, including 612 from seats gained by the Tories in 2019. It came up with its figure of 57 constituencies based on the 58 taken from other parties by the Tories in 2019, minus that of former Speaker John Bercow, who stood down. The party made a net gain of 48, having lost ten seats. The overall data were weighted to represent the adult population as a whole.
Boris Johnson enters the New Year 16 points behind Labour in Red Wall seats he needs to retain to win the next Election, bombshell poll reveals
Boris Johnson enters the New Year 16 points behind Labour in a bombshell Mail on Sunday poll of the seats he needs to retain to win the next Election.
The Deltapoll survey of the 57 constituencies the Conservatives gained in the 2019 General Election puts Labour on 49 per cent and the Conservatives on just 33 per cent.
The poll also puts Sir Keir Starmer’s party ahead in national voting intention, with Labour on 40 per cent and the Tories on 35 per cent.
If the results were repeated in a General Election it could lead to the loss of more than 100 Tory seats – enough to put Sir Keir in No10, although without a clear majority.
Boris Johnson enters the New Year 16 points behind Labour in a bombshell Mail on Sunday poll of the seats he needs to retain to win the next Election
The findings come as Tory backbenchers are increasingly discussing whether to force a leadership challenge by sending letters calling for a vote to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee.
The ‘Tory gain’ seats are dominated by MPs in the Red Wall seats in Labour heartlands the Tories won for the first time in 2019.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, one of those MPs, Ashfield’s Lee Anderson, warns Mr Johnson that ‘some of the first-time Tory voters are beginning to have doubts’ because ‘the huge rises in the cost of living coming down the track, through higher energy bills, which my voters care far more about than the platitudes spouted about the ‘green agenda’ by the wealthy elite who flew into the COP26 summit in private planes’.
The poll finds that Red Wall voters put Sir Keir ahead in the ‘best Prime Minister’ rating, with 38 per cent compared with Mr Johnson’s 33 per cent, and indicates that the rows over parties at Downing Street in apparent breach of Covid rules has damaged the Tories’ standing in these swing seats.
Only 16 per cent of voters in the seats think Mr Johnson obeyed the rules, while 72 per cent think he did not.
The missteps by No10, which led to the resignation of Brexit Minister Lord Frost, have fed speculation that the MPs could force a vote of no-confidence and a leadership contest.
Sir Graham needs to receive 54 letters to trigger a vote – but guards the number sent in.
Despite his reputation for discretion, it has been claimed to The Mail on Sunday that an ally of Mr Johnson’s on the committee has tried to dissuade MPs from submitting letters by telling them they ‘can’t trust Graham to keep their identities secret’ – a claim Sir Graham described as ‘odd’.
The Prime Minister hopes to quell the unrest with a ‘reboot’ of his Government this month, including a shake-up at No10 and the belated launch of his ‘levelling-up’ manifesto.
But the plans are understood to have been thrown into doubt by opposition from Chancellor Rishi Sunak to more spending on top of hundreds of billions in Covid support for the economy.
The poll of 1,567 British adults between December 23 and 30 puts Mr Sunak as the favourite to succeed Mr Johnson in both the national and Red Wall samples.
The five-point national lead for Labour is the largest shown by Deltapoll since the General Election.
The firm said if its results were replicated at a General Election, the Tories could ‘lose more than 100 seats, including potentially upwards of 50 of those gained in 2019’.
If the results were repeated in a General Election it could lead to the loss of more than 100 Tory seats – enough to put Sir Keir in No10, although without a clear majority.
Deltapoll came up with its figure of 57 constituencies based on the 58 taken from other parties by the Tories, minus the seat of former Speaker John Bercow, who stood down.
The party made a net gain of 48 in 2019, having lost ten seats.
Last night, Tory MP and former Cabinet Minister Sir John Redwood urged Mr Johnson to scrap the rise to National Insurance due in April or risk a drubbing at local elections in May.
Writing on Mail Online, he says: ‘Sandbagging the economy with a tax on jobs will slow the growth rate and will make getting the deficit down more difficult.’
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