Matt Hancock is plotting a political comeback this year despite dramatically resigning as health secretary for breaking his own Covid rules.
Friends of the disgraced former cabinet minister say he hopes to ‘re-emerge’ in the coming months and begin to rebuild his shattered career after his affair with a married aide was exposed.
Mr Hancock has not been seen in public since leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing and fondling Gina Coladangelo outside his office.
The photos, which were published on Friday, are from May 6 – more than a week before the Covid guidance was eased to allow close contact indoors for people from separate households.
Allies say Mr Hancock is ‘beyond contrite’ for breaking rules on social distancing which he imposed on the entire country.
A friend told the Daily Mail: ‘He blames himself for everything – this is no-one else’s fault.
‘For now, his children are his priority and he is going to take some time away.
‘But he knows he has to re-emerge at some point. It is going to be a long way back – he knows that – but he is going to try.’
Mr Hancock is said to have rang his wife Martha on Thursday night to tell her their 15-year marriage was over.
She reportedly had no idea that her husband was having an affair with Miss Coladangelo, an old university friend, until he broke the news hours before it was made public.
It has emerged that she apologised on WhatsApp to the couple’s neighbours for the disruption caused by the media attention surrounding her husband’s resignation.
A source said: ‘It was very kind of her, considering the shock she had just had. It basically said she was sorry but just to let everyone know there would be some disruption from media in the street in the coming days. She was thinking of others.’
Mrs Hancock is a popular figure locally as well as in her husband’s West Suffolk constituency.
One source said Mr Hancock had been reduced to ‘only one supporter’ among the local Conservatives who form the core of his constituency organisation, because of sympathy for his wife.
Mr Hancock still faces questions over hiring Miss Coladangelo, who he appointed as a non-executive director at the Department of Health at the expense of the tax payer.
The former cabinet minister is reportedly focusing on maintaining a strong bond with his three young children as he builds a new life with his lover, who has three children of her own with husband Oliver Tress, founder of fashion and homeware firm Oliver Bonas.
He tried to cling to his job last Friday after his rule breaking was exposed and even appeared to have the backing of Boris Johnson, who accepted his apology and said he considered the matter closed.
But the former health secretary resigned 24 hours later following widespread backlash from the public and members of his own party.
Sources say he changed his mind after taking counsel from senior Conservatives, including his mentor George Osborne, who warned that his departure was inevitable and that prolonging it would end his political career.
Accepting his resignation on Saturday, Boris Johnson left the door open to a return, telling him: ‘I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.’
Security officials at the Department of Health are now investigating why a CCTV camera was installed in Mr Hancock’s office and how footage came to be leaked to the media.
One report claimed the camera had been tampered with to ‘stitch up’ Mr Hancock.
Senior Whitehall officials told the Evening Standard that the camera was originally installed to point towards a glass door and balcony with views outside his ministerial office, which was considered a security weak point.
It is believed somebody turned it around so that it pointed instead to the internal doorway where Hancock was caught kissing and fondling Coladangelo.
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