Fewer than a fifth of people would support Matt Hancock returning to a top job in government, an exclusive new poll for PoliticsHome has found.
The survey, carried out in December by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found that over half of people polled believe the former health secretary should not be forgiven for breaching social distancing rules by having an affair at the height of the pandemic last year.
Earlier this month in an interview with the BBC, Hancock said: “people have been forgiving, which I’m grateful for”.
The Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll, which has a sample size of 1,500, follows reports that the MP for West Suffolk is plotting a political comeback, with the hope of one day being reinstated in a cabinet role.
The poll also found that just over a fifth of the people (23%) approved of Hancock’s overall job performance when he was there last time.
Hancock resigned from his position as health secretary in June this year after The Sun revealed images of the then-married MP breaking social distancing regulations to embrace his aide, Gina Coladangelo.
In what the newspaper described as a “steamy clinch”, the embrace took place on 6 May, when indoor mixing was banned.
In the weeks immediately following his resignation Hancock kept a low profile on the backbenches and online.
However, as Summer drew to a close, the MP became increasingly vocal on social media and in the Commons chamber.
In October Hancock was offered a role assisting the UN with Africa’s economic recovery from the pandemic. The job was withdrawn just four days later after the UN announced that its rules forbid MPs from taking up that specific position, but not before Hancock had announced the appointment and updated his LinkedIn.
Earlier this month Hancock introduced a ten minute rule bill to parliament, which if passed, would legislate all primary school pupils in Britain to be screened for dyslexia.
Now, with the Conservative Party leadership engulfed by a string of scandals, and Boris Johnson’s approval rating at a record low, The Times reported that Hancock “has talked up his prospects to himself” as a potential successor to Johnson.
Hancock’s office told PoliticsHome that the backbencher is in no rush to return to government and is enjoying working on his Dyslexia Screening Bill.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, Hancock reiterated apologies for breaking social distancing regulations during his tenure as health secretary.
“Sorry for all the people I let down,” the MP said.
“What I really feel is that was a failure of leadership,” he added.
“I hope that by being straightforward and apologising and resigning, people can see that I get it and I know I need to do a good job representing the people.”
“People have been forgiving which I’m grateful for.”
Among the majority of people who haven’t forgiven the MP for West Suffolk, over half (54%)say they hold this view because his breach of social distancing rules was serious.
A quarter say it is because his performance as Health Secretary was poor, while just under a fifth believe it is because the affair itself was immoral.
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