Matt hancock

Do we really need this unsubtle and irrelevant play about Covid?

Pandemonium is a new satire about the Covid nightmare that uses the quaint style of the Elizabethan masque. Armando Iannucci’s play opens with Paul Chahidi as Shakespeare introducing a troupe of players who all speak in rhyming couplets. A golden wig descends like a signal from on high and Shakespeare transforms himself into the ‘World King’ or ‘Orbis Rex’. This jocular play reminds spectators with a low IQ that Orbis is an anagram of Boris. The former prime minister, also labelled the ‘globular squire’, is portrayed as a heartless, arrogant schemer driven by ambition and vanity. He retells the main events of the pandemic with the help of an infernal

Has Matt Hancock just had a good idea?

Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry was some of the most explosive we’ve seen so far. It was largely damaging to anyone who wasn’t Matt Hancock, naturally, but the former health secretary did induce some rather big cringes from all present when his voice cracked as he said ‘I’m not very good at talking about my emotions’. He also apologised to all those who had lost loved ones. Hancock did offer some important insights into the mistakes made at crucial moments in the run-up to the pandemic. He also backed the idea of a resilience minister who can work on planning rather than being distracted by the many other

The Isabel Oakeshott Edition

46 min listen

Isabel Oakeshott is a journalist and author of numerous political biographies, formerly the political editor for the Sunday Times. She’s known for a number of scoops over the years, including Chris Huhne’s speeding ticket and revealing Matt Hancock’s lockdown WhatsApps. On the episode, she talks to Katy about why toughness was a quality her parents particularly emphasised in her upbringing; what it was like to break into the lobby as a female journalist; and why she decided to break her confidentiality agreement to expose the cache of messages that Matt Hancock had given her. Produced by Natasha Feroze, Saby Reyes-Kulkarni and Oscar Edmondson.

My search for a Matt Hancock impersonator

I’m trying to organise an event in Westminster with the journalist Isabel Oakeshott and it’s proving a bit of a nightmare. So many obstacles have been thrown in our way that we’re beginning to think it might be jinxed. But we aren’t about to give up. The original idea was for the two of us to have a conversation on stage in front of a live audience about Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages. These are the messages – more than 100,000 in total, between the then health secretary and various politicians, civil servants and advisers – that he shared with Isabel when she was employed to ghost-write The Pandemic Diaries, Hancock’s

What we learned from the lockdown files

12 min listen

The Daily Telegraph has splashed on over 100,000 WhatsApp messages to and from Matt Hancock during his time as Health Secretary. Altogether they show the internal workings of the government and how key lockdown decisions were made during that time. On the podcast, James Heale talks to Katy Balls and Fraser Nelson, who has been working with the Telegraph on putting these files into the public eye. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Matt Hancock’s latest comeback wheeze

There’s a sad mood of mourning in Westminster at present so thank God for Matt Hancock’s ongoing efforts to become relevant again. The Casanova of the Commons has tried every trick in the book to mount a cabinet comeback since losing office in disgrace some 14 months ago. He’s signed a book deal, joined the Metaverse, done a podcast, championed polo necks and adopted a refugee in between fronting crypto, enraging the Serpentine, alienating the UN and acting as Boris Johnson’s human shield, all to no avail. Now though, our dashing hero has a new wheeze: potentially starring in the Channel 4 series Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins. Hancock has been

Poll: voters don’t want Boris in Truss’s cabinet

The Tory leadership race is almost over and at last a new PM will be announced. Most expect that next Tuesday it will be Liz Truss, the Insta-loving, Beyonce-quoting, cheese-bashing Foreign Secretary, who will be stutting her way up Downing Street to the famous door of No. 10. Her first order of business – after kissing hands with the Queen and giving her nuclear instructions – will be the appointment of a new cabinet: a chance to reward friends and purge rivals. Steerpike thought it only fair therefore to see what the public makes of the prospect of several well-known Westminster faces making a return under Truss. A poll for The

Matt Hancock enjoys a ‘Permissionless Experience’

Ah, Matt Hancock: the man who makes Gavin Williamson and his manoeuvrings look subtle. The former Health Secretary marked the anniversary of his fall from grace by going out to bat for the government’s Protocol bill in the Times (hint, hint Bozza). But until he gets recalled to his rightful place in the Cabinet, the West Suffolk MP has a new way of occupying his time: making the case for crypto in the corridors of power. Karen Bradley, whose spell at the Northern Ireland Office involved a fair amount of ups and downs, got three tickets and ‘fastrack passes to Alton Towers Theme Park’. It’s been a rough old time for

Matt Hancock, crypto bro

The Matt Hancock comeback tour continues at pace. After the mothballed memoir, the Serpentine stunt and the UN embarrassment, you might think that the Casanova of the Commons has run out of ideas for retrospective rehabilitation. Far from it: alongside doing endless media rounds to defend Boris Johnson’s latest blunder, Hancock has reinvented himself as a champion of crypto-currencies. Just the kind of flag bearer that the scandal-riddled industry needs. The backbencher tweeted a video yesterday, giving a speech to the London Crypto Club. Declaring that, ‘the mass market is a force for good,’ Hancock eulogised such currencies by proclaiming: ‘if we get the regulation right crypto will not only accelerate growth but make

Matt Hancock’s refugee embrace

Who should be on this year’s Honours’ List? For Mr Steerpike, the answer is clear: Matt Hancock, MBE, for services to comedy. In recent months the rule-breaking romantic has performed a series of eye-catching antics to try and aid his bid back to power.  There was the Capital Jingle Bell Ball where he rocked up with Gina looking like a metrosexual Bond villain. There was the Serpentine swimming sesh when he ended up in hot water and the excruciating podcast interview in which he spoke about casual sex. And then of course there was the HarperCollins incident where the American publishing house had to distance themselves from reports Hancock was planning a

Matt Hancock’s privacy probe

It’s not been a great few months for Matt Hancock. Every time the Casanova of the Commons tries to make a comeback, nothing seems to go his way. First, HarperCollins dismissed speculation that they would be publishing his self-justificatory book; then he faced mockery for his turtleneck outfit at the Capital Jingle Bell Ball. Even efforts to flaunt his sexual appeal came to nought after indignant Serpentine members slapped him down for swimming in their pool while a photographer snapped him topless. And now Steerpike can reveal that there’s still been no luck as to finding the perpetrators who leaked highly-sensitive images of Hancock in a passionate embrace back in June

Serpentine swimmers slap down Matt Hancock

Oh dear. As part of his comeback tour, Matt Hancock is trying every trick to aid his post-Gina rehabilitation. There has been talk of a self-justificatory book, cringeworthy Twitter clips of him doing meet and greets, an appearance at the Capital Jingle Bell Ball in a dreadful turtleneck, backbench interventions and even talk of him mounting a leadership bid. But it seems one of Hancock’s stunts has backfired somewhat, after the master of the breast stroke was last week spotted taking a dip in the open-water swimming site of the Serpentine. For while Hancock, a guest of member and fellow former minister Lord Bethell, was keen to milk the conveniently-placed photographer’s snaps for all

Coming soon: Matt Hancock’s best-seller

Parliament is in the mire with sleaze aplenty. Whether it’s double jobs for six figures or foreign jaunts sparking domestics: MPs have been hitting the headlines this week for their various indiscretions, undeclared or otherwise. With politics in peril and cynicism all around, which champion of integrity can step forth to remind us of politicians at their best, of a better time, when statesmen governed with integrity? Cometh the hour, cometh the Hancock. Undaunted by past indiscretions, the womanizer of West Suffolk has returned to the fray today to nobly remind us all of his many virtues. The libidinous legislator is reported to be writing a comeback account of ‘How I Won The Covid

Qatari cash splashed on jet-setting MPs

Case rates are falling, booster rates are sky-rocketing and Westminster is consumed by the Owen Paterson affair: what more signs are needed that normal life is resuming? And more proof, if needed, was provided by this week’s release of the updated Members’ Register of Interest, in which under-fire MPs revealed that jet-setting junkets have now resumed.  Some 16 Labour and Conservative MPs were last month flown to Qatar as part of the British-Qatari All Party Parliamentary Group, at a cool cost of some £120,000, paid for by the country’s embassy. According to their entries, the MPs were there for discussions on the country’s ‘humanitarian and political response to the Afghanistan crisis, preparations

The Prince Harryfication of Boris Johnson

The acting one sees upon the stage doesn’t show how human beings actually comport themselves in crises, but simply how actors think they ought to. It is the same with politicians, but they are not actors, only a sort of reductio ad absurdum of a thespian. Their profession bears the same relation to proper acting (so-called) as that of a card sharp or a divorce lawyer bears to poetry. Take Michael Gove, whom I have known since I was 21, and Matt Hancock, whom (I thank God fasting) I don’t know at all. Were this a play, Hancock would not have left his wife and three children for a well-known

How to have an affair

Gstaad After six-and-a-half months apart, I had no trouble recognising my wife. Out she came on to the driveway to greet me as Charlie the horny driver brought a sleepy Greek boy home after a long flight from the Bagel. I pretended not to know her and embraced the maid instead, but it didn’t work. My son and two grandchildren added to the merriment, playing along when I asked them who that lady was who tried to kiss me. Here’s some advice to all you young whippersnappers: women will forgive anything as long as you keep it light and make them laugh. I’ve been in trouble with women throughout my

Matt Hancock isn’t the only politician who is clueless about cyber security

It is widely acknowledged that Britain has some of the world’s finest cyber capabilities. GCHQ is a global leader in those dark arts, and its offshoot, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), is making that expertise available to businesses and others in need of help with their digital defences. All the more shocking, then, that our political leaders seem so utterly clueless. They have pledged to make Britain the ‘safest place in the world to be online’, but instead are running around like stars in a digital age ‘Carry On’ movie. Exhibit number one is Matt Hancock. Whitehall has been busy sweeping ministerial offices in search of cameras of the

Kate Andrews

The Hancock era is over

Could the NHS backlog be even worse than we feared? It’s been reported that the pandemic has pushed a total of five million people onto NHS England waiting lists. But speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, health secretary Sajid Javid revealed a new figure, which was not previously in the public domain: As a fresh set of eyes coming in, the thing that shocked me most was the huge waiting list and the number of people that did not come forward because of the pandemic. We estimate there’s some seven million people that did not come forward to the NHS to be helped with things like cancer, with heart disease.

How I missed the Matt Hancock story

I want to apologise: I have let myself down. I let others down too, and I’m sorry. Not because, Matt Hancock-style, I breached social distancing guidelines with a steamy office affair — but because I missed the scoop. I was sent a compromising picture of the then health secretary and his mistress almost a week before the Sun newspaper sensationally revealed their relationship — and I did not believe it was him. Having never knowingly undersold my ability to break big stories, this is embarrassing to say the least. Over the years, my scoops have led variously to the jailing of a cabinet minister (Chris Huhne); the resignation of the

Martin Vander Weyer

The Nicola Sturgeon effect on house prices

Nicola Sturgeon depresses me and seems to be having the same effect on Scottish house prices. In a housing market described by departing Bank of England economist Andy Haldane as ‘on fire’, the flames have been rising higher the further away from London — but more or less extinguishing themselves at Hadrian’s Wall. Why buyers are scarcer in Nicola’s domain is a question I’ll leave to our political writers, but the broader picture of soaring home prices across the rest of the UK is an unforeseen pandemic effect that may have painful consequences. Nationwide’s June data shows an annual price-rise bar chart increasing steadily from 7.3 per cent in London