Budding love: Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo yesterday
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Former health secretary Matt Hancock has visited the Chelsea Flower Show with lover Gina Coladangelo – as MPs face a grilling over Partygate.

The couple were seen ‘very close and happily smiling’ as they strolled around the grounds in south west London on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who served as health secretary for the first 15 months of the pandemic, faced ‘one or two awkward questions’ about how he dealt with Covid during the visit, according to one onlooker.

The 43-year-old resigned from his role in June last year after footage emerged of him kissing and cuddling then married lover Ms Coladangelo, 44, inside the Department of Health during the height of the pandemic.

But Mr Hancock seemed ‘jovial’ as he visited the Chelsea Flower Show today.

One onlooker said: ‘I did do a walk past a couple of times. They were briefly alone and seemed very close and happily smiling and looking around, pointing and quite jovial.

Budding love: Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo yesterday

 Budding love: Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo yesterday

‘Matt was seemingly being spoken to/at by a few people. Gina seemed to step back when he was speaking to other members of the public, as if to allow space for him to do so.

‘There were one or two awkward questions and one person making a comment regarding his dealing of the Covid situation, which made him visibly uncomfortable and she was keen to turn and look busy elsewhere.

‘The most notable question was whether he felt happy with the way he dealt with the Covid pandemic.

‘Another was less a question, more a remark – essentially that he wasn’t fit for purpose due to breaking his own rules, and in the process, his marriage.

‘He was, in the true style of politicians, trying to redirect the awkward questions. As the photograph shows however, he wasn’t able to hide the uncomfortable facial expressions!

Day 3 of the Chelsea flower show Pictured: Former Health Minister Matt Hancock and his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo, also on the day of the Gray report release in Westminster

Day 3 of the Chelsea flower show Pictured: Former Health Minister Matt Hancock and his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo, also on the day of the Gray report release in Westminster

Guest of honour: Dame Deborah James at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022 with BBC presenter Sophie Raworth

Guest of honour: Dame Deborah James at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022 with BBC presenter Sophie Raworth

‘They were quick to turn to the less busy areas afterwards, as clearly weren’t keen on being questioned continuously after the first barrage.

‘She [Gina] was very keen to not be questioned at all.’

It is understood Mr Hancock strenuously denies there were any negative conversations or awkward questions.

It follows a series of public appearances in recent months as Mr Hancock bids to return to the top of politics following a considerable fall from grace.

His ‘comeback tour’ has included peeling off the layers for a dip in Hyde Park’s icy Serpentine lake and evoking the late Steve Jobs in a roll neck and jeans during an unlikely appearance at Capital FM’s Jingle Bells Ball.

The Dame Deborah James Rose named in honour of BBC podcaster Deborah James, who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2016

The Dame Deborah James Rose named in honour of BBC podcaster Deborah James, who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2016 

He also made appeared as a guest on Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast in February, where he described how he ‘fell in love’ with Ms Coladangelo after bringing her in to work with him and denied breaching Covid rules.

The podcast appearance came a month after the stunt-loving Mr Hancock joined plane spotters during a visit to RAF Lakenheath for a meeting in his West Suffolk constituency.

The ex-minister climbed one of the group’s ladders to get a better view of aircraft landing and taking off from the military base. 

The visit came as the long-awaited report into rule-breaking at Downing Street during the pandemic has been published today.

Top civil servant Sue Gray concluded that senior leadership in the government and civil service should bear responsibility for the culture at No10.

‘I take full responsibility’: Boris tells MPs he is SORRY for Partygate after Sue Gray lays out ‘appalling’ details of staff fighting and vomiting – but PM denies lying to Parliament and says leaving dos kept ‘morale’ because they were ‘working hard’

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor and David Wilcock, Deputy Political Editor and Greg Heffer, Political Correspondent for MailOnline

Boris Johnson today insisted he takes ‘full responsibility’ for Partygate after Sue Gray gave a grim account of drunken antics at the heart of government.

The PM told MPs that the government had ‘learned our lesson’ and he personally was ‘humbled’ after being issued a fine – saying he ‘renewed my apology’.

But Mr Johnson also denied lying to Parliament about the breaches, arguing that leaving dos were needed to keep up ‘morale’ while people were ‘working hard’ and he was ‘proud’ of the efforts of staff.  

Saying he wanted to ‘move on’, the premier told the House: ‘I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch.’ 

Mr Johnson was heckled as he said ‘the entire senior management has changed’, and Keir Starmer accused him of treating the country ‘with contempt’. 

But the Labour leader was forced to deny he had broken the law as he was barracked over the ‘Beergate’ police investigation into an election campaign visit to Durham last year.

Sue Gray’s Partygate findings at a glance 

  • The report found the ‘senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility’ for the culture of flouting Covid rules 
  • No10 private secretary Martin Reynolds was warned that a Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20, 2020 was ‘somewhat of a comms risk’. Mr Reynolds remarked afterwards that they seemed to have ‘got away with it’ 
  • A raucous leaving do on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral lasted until 4:20am and spread into the garden, with the swing used by PM’s young son broken – although Mr Johnson was not present 
  • There were multiple examples of ‘unacceptable’ treatment of security and cleaning staff 
  • Former ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office leaving do on June 18, 2020
  • There was a fight at the event on June 18 and someone was sick 
  • Mr Johnson joined five special advisers in a meeting with ‘food and alcohol’ in his No11 flat on November 13, 2020, after the announcement of Dominic Cummings’ departure
  • Ms Gray said she had not looked into whether the so-called ‘Abba Party’ on that date breached lockdown 
  • Mr Johnson brought the cheese and wine pictured in a garden gathering on May 15 2020 from his flat, although it appears to have been a valid work event 

And the premier was boosted as Tory MPs were largely supportive in the chamber – even heckling long-term critic Tobias Ellwood as he called for a new leader. 

One frustrated rebel told MailOnline that it is now ‘irrelevant’ whether Tories send letters of no-confidence in Mr Johnson, as if a full vote was triggered they would certainly lose and inflict further damage on the party in the process.

‘There definitely isn’t the 180 to get rid of him,’ the MP said.  

In her 37-page verdict, Ms Gray slammed ‘excessive’ drinking at a slew of bashes in Downing Street and Whitehall – many of which broke lockdown rules. 

She describes how officials enjoyed karaoke, were sick in offices and even got into fights while the rest of the country was under harsh restrictions. 

Ms Gray was particularly scathing about a raucous leaving party in Downing Street on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, when a child’s swing was broken by revellers. Mr Johnson was not present.

And former No10 principal private secretary Martin Reynolds was warned by colleagues that a notorious ‘BYOB’ bash in May 2020 was a bad idea – but remarked afterwards that they had ‘got away with’ the event. 

However, there was limited direct criticism of Mr Johnson himself, with Dominic Cummings complaining that Ms Gray had let him off the hook by failing to investigate an alleged ‘Abba Party’ in his grace-and-favour flat.

Mr Johnson said staff had been working ‘extremely long hours’ and ‘doing their best’ to help the country in the pandemic, adding to MPs: ‘I appreciate this is no mitigation but it’s important to set out.’

He added: ‘I’m trying to set out the context, not to mitigate or to absolve myself in any way.

‘The exemption under which they were present in Downing Street includes those circumstances where officials and advisers were leaving the Government and it was appropriate to recognise and to thank them for the work they had done.

‘I briefly attended such gatherings to thank them for their service, which I believe is one of the essential duties of leadership and particularly important when people need to feel that their contributions have been appreciated and to keep morale as high as possible.’

As he was heckled, the PM said: ‘I’m trying to explain the reasons I was there. It’s clear from what Sue Gray had to say that some of these gatherings then went on far longer than was necessary and they were clearly in breach of the rules and they fell foul of the rules.’

Responding to allegations he deliberately misled Parliament, Mr Johnson said: ‘I have been as surprised and disappointed as anyone else in this House as the revelations have unfolded and, frankly, I have been appalled by some of the behaviour, particularly in the treatment of the security and the cleaning staff.

‘And I’d like to apologise to those members of staff and I expect anyone who behaved in that way to apologise to them as well.’

The report included nine photographs featuring Mr Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. 

Four are from the PM’s birthday ‘party’ in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – over which he was fined along with wife Carrie and Mr Sunak. The politicians and Mr Case can be seen with a tray of sandwiches. 

Five other pictures are from a leaving do for spin doctor Lee Cain in November 2020, where Mr Johnson is shown making a toast in front of tables loaded with booze. 

The mandarin said in her conclusions: ‘The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.’

She said: ‘Whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time. 

‘Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance. 

‘It is also clear, from the outcome of the police investigation, that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.’ 

It is understood that Mr Case is not set to be sacked over the scandal, following rumours he could carry the can despite not being given an FPN himself.  

Mr Johnson has drawn up ‘masochism strategy’ in a bid to defuse anger, giving a press conference after his statement to Parliament, and then addressing Conservative MPs this evening.

Ministers are hoping to shift the agenda on as swiftly as possible by announcing a fresh cost-of-living bailout as early as tomorrow that could be worth £10billion, part-funded by a windfall tax on surging profits at energy firms.

Among the revelations in the Gray report: 

  • Former communications director Lee Cain warned No10 private secretary Martin Reynolds that a planned Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20, 2020 was ‘somewhat of a comms risk’. Mr Reynolds remarked afterwards that they seemed to have ‘got away with it’; 
  • Mr Johnson joined five special advisers in a meeting with ‘food and alcohol’ in his Downing Street flat on November 13, 2020, after the announcement of Dominic Cummings’ departure, but the report does not comment on whether it was a lockdown breach; 
  • Ms Gray slated multiple examples of ‘unacceptable’ treatment of security and cleaning staff; 
  • Former proprietary and ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office gathering on June 18, 2020, to mark the departure of another official;
  • The report confirmed there was a fight at the event on June 18 and someone was sick. ‘There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals.’ 
  • Mr Johnson brought the cheese and wine pictured in a garden gathering on May 15 2020 from his flat, although it appears to have been a valid work event. 

A group of pictures released by Sue Gray show the PM's birthday party in June 2020 - over which he was fined along with Rishi Sunak and his wife Carrie

A group of pictures released by Sue Gray show the PM’s birthday party in June 2020 – over which he was fined along with Rishi Sunak and his wife Carrie

Deploying a ‘masochism strategy’, the Prime Minister will ‘take responsibility’ for lockdown rule-breaking in Downing Street, which is set to be savaged in the much-anticipated report (Johnson is pictured toasting during a Downing St event in November 2020)

Five other pictures are from a leaving do for spin doctor Lee Cain in November 2020, where Mr Johnson is shown making a toast in front of tables loaded with booze

Five other pictures are from a leaving do for spin doctor Lee Cain in November 2020, where Mr Johnson is shown making a toast in front of tables loaded with booze

Boris Johnson

Ministers are braced for the fallout from the verdict of Ms Gray (pictured in Westminster earlier this year)

After Sue Gray (right) concluded her report, Mr Johnson (left) told MPs that the government had ‘learned our lesson’ and he personally was ‘humbled’ after being issued a fine – saying he ‘renewed my apology’

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