Matt Hancock has appealed for ‘forgiveness’ for breaking Covid rules during his affair with Gina Coladangelo – insisting he is ‘only human’.
In an astonishingly candid interview with the Mail, the former health secretary talks frankly about falling ‘deeply in love’ with his former aide and the pain it caused his family.
He also discusses the ‘horrific’ vitriol they received following his decision to appear on I’m A Celebrity.
Mr Hancock says he takes responsibility for a ‘failure of leadership’ when the pair were caught breaching social distancing rules.
Matt Hancock has appealed for ‘forgiveness’ for breaking Covid rules during his affair with Gina Coladangelo – insisting he is ‘only human’
But he says his ‘political judgment was off’ as he was ‘deeply in love’ with Miss Coladangelo, describing their relationship as an ‘affaire de coeur’.
Talking openly for the first time about the start of their affair, he reveals the moment he realised they had fallen for each other and the conflict with his conscience that followed.
However, Mr Hancock says he is not asking for forgiveness for the way he handled the pandemic, insisting he ‘woke up every single morning’ determined to do his best in ‘impossible’ circumstances.
The exclusive revelations coincide with the beginning of the serialisation of Mr Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries in The Mail+ and the Daily Mail.
In the interview, he divulges:
• The couple were taken by surprise by their feelings – only realising they were in love after Miss Coladangelo turned to the MP during a health scare;
• They took six weeks to consider their emotions before deciding to ‘make a life together’;
• He recalls the night he had to tell his family of the affair after being confronted by a newspaper;
• Admits he was ‘in tears’ in the car on the way to see Boris Johnson to tell him he was going to resign;
• He robustly stands by his pandemic record – claiming there ‘is a good, honest explanation for every single decision’;
• Defends his decision to join I’m A Celebrity, insisting he was there as ‘part of his job’ and he wanted the public to see him as a ‘human’.
The 44-year-old was forced to resign as health secretary after he was caught breaking his own rules while kissing Miss Coladangelo in his Whitehall office last year.
He tells the Mail: ‘I want forgiveness for the mistake I made, the failure of leadership at the end of the pandemic when I fell in love with Gina and I broke the guidance that I’d signed off. I want forgiveness for the human error I made… but I’m not asking for forgiveness for how I handled the pandemic.
‘I woke up every single morning determined to do the very best I could in the most impossible circumstances until I needed to go to bed at night. I did that for 18 months.
‘There is a good, honest explanation for every single decision I made, whether it turned out to be right or not.’
He adds: ‘I don’t seek forgiveness for falling in love with Gina because I love her very deeply.’
Mr Hancock says he takes responsibility for a ‘failure of leadership’ when the pair were caught breaching social distancing rules
Mr Hancock insists he was an ‘assiduous’ follower of the rules, until he made a ‘mistake’.
‘I’m not going to give excuses, I put my hands up and I take responsibility.’
He says he asked for forgiveness while on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity when facing tough questions from his campmates over his misdemeanour ‘because I’m only human’.
He becomes emotional reflecting on the joy at seeing Miss Coladangelo waiting for him as he exited the show after coming third.
With his voice breaking, he says: ‘It was wonderful to see Gina on the bridge, it hasn’t been easy.
‘It hasn’t been easy for me or those that I love and I don’t seek sympathy because I brought it on myself. But it was wonderful to see her.’
While the demands of the pandemic meant they were working closely, he says it was not until April last year that they both realised they’d developed feelings.
The MP described his joy when he was greeted by girlfriend Gina Coladangelo when he left the camp
He also claims they did not have physical contact until May 2021 after spending several weeks contemplating their situation.
‘We both realised we had feelings for each other which were as strong as they were. It was very sudden and took us both by surprise,’ he says.
Recalling the exact moment the penny dropped, he says: ‘I can remember every moment of it. Gina had a medical appointment and called me afterwards.
‘I was the first person she called. I’m like, ‘F***, she called me first.’ And she’s like, ‘Oh my God, the person I wanted to call was Matt’.’
They were both married at the time with three children each. Mr Hancock admits: ‘I felt every conflicting emotion because I was in love but, at the same time, I was causing immense pain to the people I loved.
‘We realised what was happening was of huge consequence that would last for the rest of our lives but… this was an affaire de coeur and therefore my political judgement was off.’
For six weeks he said they both ‘wrestled with their consciences’ but came to the decision that they wanted to ‘make a life together’. The couple have six children between them.
But just as they struggled with how best to deal with their relationship and their loved ones, he said he had a call from The Sun informing him the paper was about to expose their affair.
Mr Hancock recalls informing the then-Prime Minister Mr Johnson and heading home to break the news to his family. The night that followed was a restless one and he waited up until 2am for the CCTV images to be published for the world to see – a moment he described as ‘terrible’.
Mr Hancock says he and Miss Coladangelo have endured a ‘shockingly awful’ 18 months since which was exasperated by even more ‘vitriol’ when he decided to appear in I’m a Celebrity while a sitting MP.
He had the Tory whip suspended while Miss Coladangelo was asked to step down from her new role as a trustee for a charity.
‘It’s been absolutely horrific, especially for Gina. I’ve had an absolute bucket of s*** poured over my head,’ he says.
The MP said his mission on the show was to help close the gap between the public and their politicians, adding: ‘I was there as part of my job, not instead of my job.’
He said he had also hoped to seek forgiveness and show the country that he was ‘only human’.
He added: ‘I don’t know if I’ve achieved that but I have shown people who I really am – not just the Matt Hancock on the podium.’
Mr Hancock plans to donate part of his fee – reported previously to be in the region of £400,000 – to charity before getting back to work in Parliament.
CLICK HERE TO READ MATT HANCOCK’S EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW AND WATCH THE VIDEO EXCLUSIVELY ON THE MAIL+