In a bizarre video interview from 2019, Boris Johnson announced in the face of no-deal Brexit fears that “under any circumstances, this country will be amply provided for, not only with Mars bars, not only with drinking water, but also with cheese and onion crisps.” In a vacuum, this comment would be blindly endearing and amusing. Instead, it is now ironic, in retrospect of Johnson’s attempts at repressing free school meals for the most disadvantaged children in society, overturned at the behest of footballers Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.
This is, of course, not the only example of hypocrisy displayed across Johnson’s cabinet. Hancock, the disgraced former health secretary, once described the government restricted hook-ups as “a matter for the police” and clearly outlined it as “not a request. It is an instruction … stay at home, protect lives and then you will be doing your part.” It is therefore unfortunate for the public to hear Hancock ignore his own instructions, allowing us to do our part on his behalf while he broke lockdown rules to enable his affair.
With the public jaded by government scandals, the act of infidelity is not what caused the most societal discomfort in this situation. It is on this note that makes it obvious as to why the prime minister did not sack Hancock for his affair in consideration of his own infidelity. It is obvious as to why the prime minister did not sack Hancock for his affair when you take into consideration Johnson’s own infidelity. Although, it does provide us yet again with another contradiction under the belt of Johnson and his cabinet to “uphold family values”, a core belief of Conservative ideology. It is only fair Hancock resigned from his position after instructing Professor Neil Ferguson to do the same thing when he defied lockdown rules, stating it was “the right decision to resign”. However, Hancock’s resignation does not in any way forgive his hypocrisy as, unlike Hancock, Ferguson was not the one who drafted the rules he transgressed.
Matt Hancock’s resignation appears more as something he did for his own reputation rather than an apology to those who followed the rules even when it meant forgoing contact with beloved relatives for over 18 months. Hancock would not have been able to do his job as health secretary, instructing the public and NHS staff to follow his guidelines throughout the rest of the pandemic knowing the words he spoke were ones not applicable to him. It is clear that his hypocrisy backfired, leaving his credibility in tatters.
The lingering sour taste of all this is the fleeting insight into the value placed on women by our government – objects to be married to serve the image of a traditional, nuclear family. Otherwise, to be promoted into government roles when they serve the transgressive desires of men. This is not to say the five women out of 23 members who make up Johnson’s cabinet are not there due to their credentials, but the staggeringly low number is not inspiring hope that the Conservative government have women as a consideration in decision making when 50% of the population is represented by a cabinet which (as of March 2021) is only 21.7% women.
In light of this and the sexist media coverage regarding Theresa May’s clothing instead of her job, it further begs the question, would Hancock have been absolved by the prime minister in the same way had he been a woman?