Hancock Gets into Sticky Situation on GMB

GMB were a little cheeky playing footage of Health Secretary Matt Hancock devouring a 356 Kcal Caramel Stroopwafel. “I love life and I love my waffles…”

“If you like a caramel waffle then have a caramel waffle, just don’t have too many and do a bit of exercise.”

If only the Health Secretary would tell that to the increasingly puritanical Public Health England…

Meet the Candidates: Team Hancock

Guido introduces you to another of the Tory leadership hopefuls – today it’s young upstart Matt Hancock who is hoping to upset the older favourites. He is publicly careful to avoid leadership challenge questions, though the youngest contender (40) did tell an Onward meeting “we need to make a generational shift in the Conservative Party”. Can the first MP to get their own app jump the generational divide?

Hancock has remained loyal to the Prime Minister throughout, although that hasn’t stopped a number of people from getting behind him already. Hancock is yet to take on any full-time campaign staff at this stage. Fortunately he already has three SpAds behind him – popular media SpAd and former CCHQ / CTF staffer Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is his main spinner, his parliamentary liaison SpAd is Allan Nixon. Nixon is also a Scot – could this be an advantage in trying to bring over the caucus of 13 Scottish Tory MPs to Team Hancock?

Hancock is receiving informal advice from Ameet Gill, David Cameron’s former Director of Strategy and the co-founder of Hanbury Strategy, where the other co-founder Paul Stephenson is advising rival contender Dominic Raab. This must make for some interesting water cooler conversations…

Hancock has also been receiving advice from Gina Coladangelo, a director at Luther Pendragon and the PR guru behind the recent surge of fashion brand Oliver Bonas. She’s been helping Hancock sharpen up his own branding and broadcast appearances…

Two MPs have publicly come out for Team Hancock – Stephen Hammond and Tracey Crouch. Hancock’s main support base is likely to be more TRG than ERG, so if Brexit is a less prominent issue he will be hoping that his reputation as a competent, energetic minister can win him broader support from MPs of all factions looking to the future. The way Hancock has neutralised the NHS as a Labour attack line in his 9 months as Health Secretary is in stark contrast to his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, it remains to be seen if the membership can be convinced…

Social media support: Hancock has 78.7k Twitter followers and his Facebook has 2.4k. Sadly no-one appears to have created a “Happy for Hancock” fan account yet, his app however has had thousands of downloads…

Mainstream media support: Hancock’s been receiving plenty of favourable coverage from the Evening Standard – the editor just happens to be his former boss. Although Hancock is keen to avoid getting pigeon-holed as Osborne 2.0, particularly on Brexit…

ConservativeHome members survey: 1.7% (13th)

YouGov public recognition: not yet included.

William Hill odds: 10/1 (6th)

Hancock on Receiving End of Social Media Smear Campaign

The Women’s Equality Party has a social media campaign today bombarding the Health Secretary Matt Hancock with pictures of errrm, shrinking violets. WEP are furious with the Health Secretary for saying falling rates of cervical smear check-ups are due to women being embarrassed. WEP claim it is down to cuts to sexual health services, despite studies siding with Hancock. WEP are also spamming his Matt Hancock app…

BBC’s Genome ‘Expert’ is Tory-Hating Corbynista Who Dismissed Labour Anti-Semitism

The BBC have been having a go Matt Hancock after he gave a speech championing genomics, after a test prompted him to revealed that he had a higher risk of prostate cancer. The Beeb managed to line up some ‘experts’ like UCL’s David Curtis to label him “frankly ridiculous”. Never mind that the speech was well-received by both the British Heart Foundation and Association of Medical Research Charities. One of Curtis’s UCL colleagues even called Hancock’s speech incredible. Guido wouldn’t go quite that far but genomics is a genuinely exciting medical advance…

The Independent managed to get some even juicier quotes from Curtis including “as a health secretary, he displays a quite astonishing level of ignorance about the NHS.” However it looks more like it was the journalists who had an “astonishing level of ignorance” about Curtis. Far from being an impartial expert he’s a fully signed-up Corbynista who likes to spend his spare time calling the Tories “real bastards”.

An active Twitter user, Curtis is so much of a Corbyn fan that he has hit out at the Jewish Chronicle for reporting anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, the Union of Jewish Students for ‘exaggerating‘ anti-Semitism, and called Margaret Hodge a “dick” for expressing her “groundless fears of a “rise” in anti-semitism.” Sounds like a lovely guy…

Courts Reject Another Jolyon Lawsuit, Order Him to Pay £8,000 Costs

Can a man ever get tired of too much winning? This is a question Jolyon Maugham must ask himself every day. As his website proudly declares, “Good Law Project’s (and its Director, Jo Maugham QC’s) success in crowdfunded litigation is a matter of public record”. A public record which Guido is always happy to contribute to

Sadly, the Courts have cruelly denied Jolyon the chance to engage in yet more winning after his application for a Judicial Review against Health Secretary Matt Hancock was refused. Jolyon was trying to bring a lawsuit to derail the Government’s no-deal medicines planning. The Judge ruled that none of Jolyon’s four grounds were arguable, and ordered Jolyon to pay costs of £8,000 to the Secretary of State. All that winning can be a costly business – for your crowdfund backers…

The Government haven’t pushed this regulation through on the sly – the Commons actually debated this specific regulation on Monday night and Labour forced a division over it, with the Government winning 292 to 240. One Labour MP who didn’t vote against it was Jeremy Corbyn, it turns out the vegetarian Labour leader was too busy attending the British Kebab Awards to turn up to vote. Maybe Jolyon should launch a lawsuit against that too?

Hancock: Government Will “Listen Very Carefully” to Calls to Remove Backstop

Matt Hancock has given the clearest public signal yet that the Government is considering getting behind moves to remove the backstop from the deal, provided Bercow calls the appropriate amendments on Tuesday. There are rumours of a mass walkout if Bercow again abuses his position to not call a Government-backed amendment with a decent chance of securing a majority…

Hancock: Time For “Full Preparation” For No Deal

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Newsnight last night that the NHS has gone to “full no deal planning” and added that there is a need for the “whole of government” to go to that position “because it’s the responsible thing to do”. This morning’s Cabinet meeting is set to centre around the issue, with Philip Hammond set to release a futher £2 billion to government departments for planning. Several departments are named and shamed in The Sun for supposedly having only spent a third of their no deal allocations so far…

No deal will have its challenges but it can largely be managed with sensible policy responses from the UK. One unnamed Cabinet minister tells The Sun: “No Deal must look credible, and the EU must be made to understand we’re serious.” It would have done more to make the UK’s position credible if full preparations had started when May first set out her “no deal is better than a bad deal” position years ago. Better late than never…

DD: Government Must Release “Complete” Legal Advice

David Davis has added his voice to calls for the Government to release the legal advice they have received on the Irish backstop. Davis told Today that there was “no argument whatsoever” that at the very least the Cabinet should have access to the full information before making their decision on the deal, while rejecting Matt Hancock’s suggestion on Peston last night that Geoffrey Cox answering questions in Parliament would amount to sufficient scrutiny:

“What we must see is the complete legal advice, not a summary, not something that just glides and glosses over the difficult issues, but the actual legal advice.”

Interestingly, Hancock did add that it would be a “decision in exceptional circumstances for the Prime Minister”. Under the Ministerial Code, the legal advice can be released if the “law officers” i.e. the Attorney General agree to it. May herself attacked Brown and Blair for not showing legal advice they had received on the Iraq War to the Cabinet and MPs, labelling it a breach of the ministerial code. The circumstances of Brexit are at least as exceptional as those of the Iraq War…

In any case, MPs may seek to take the decision out of her hands, with Tory rebels considering supporting a humble address motion from Keir Starmer in Labour’s opposition day debate next Tuesday which could compel the Government to release the advice. If there is nothing to hide in the advice, the Government can avoid the whole row by simply agreeing to release it in full…

Hancock: I “Hope” Customs Union Will Be Time Limited

SpAd Moves: Hancock Gets Fighting Fit Team

New Health Secretary Matt Hancock is beefing up his SpAd team – experienced SpAd Lottie Dominiczak is off to the private sector, with two new hires coming in to partner renowned chess hustler and late-night Tory Conference musical entertainer extraordinaire Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. Richard Sloggett is joining from Hanover Communications as Hancock’s policy SpAd – Sloggett has worked on health issues for years and knows the health world inside out.

Allan Nixon is joining from Hancock’s parliamentary office and will lead on parliamentary liaison. Also joining Team Hancock on the civil service side is former Evening Standard hack Rashid Razaq who will be Hancock’s speechwriter after being poached from DfID. Hancock getting his team leadership fighting-fit…

Outside the Department of Health, former Gove SpAd Beth Armstrong is making a return to Government, joining Nick De Bois and Steph Lis at DExEU. They will have their hands full over the next few weeks…

Get in touch with any updates…

Hancock Jumps on a Wall

Matt Hancock has tweeted a video of himself jumping onto a 2 foot high wall and claimed it shows him demonstrating the military training discipline of parkour:

This follows him attempting to moonwalk last week:

Is he worried about Liz Truss?

“Kay Burley Will Stand Against Matt Hancock in West Suffolk”

Labour MP Chris Bryant reckons Kay Burley could stand against Matt Hancock in West Suffolk if the future of Sky News is threatened under proposed merger plans. Kay would win…

Hancock: 4 Out of 14 Social Media Companies Turned Up to Meet Me

Not including Matt Hancock of the Matt Hancock App, presumably…

“Give Me Sexy” Matt Hancock

He can sing, he can dance, he can defend the freedom of the press, is there anything Matt Hancock can’t do?

Stakes Cut is Big Win for Casino Industry

The announcement this morning by Matt Hancock that stakes on gaming machines (FOBTs) in bookies’ shops are to be cut to a maximum of £2 is being spun as a victory for anti-gambling campaigners and social justice warriors from across the political spectrum – uniting IDS and Tom Watson. It is actually a victory for casinos and amusement arcade owners who lobbied hard to hobble their competitors.

One of the main lobbyists for the change was Gabino Stergides, of the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry, with whom Matt Hancock is pictured above. Among the other funders of the anti-gaming machines campaign were the casinos Genting, Les Ambassadeurs Club, The Palaces and the Hippodrome Casino. Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBT, has been wined and dined by Simon Thomas – the owner of the Hippodrome mega-casino. The whole campaign has basically been funded by the bookies’ gambling industry rivals.

The irony is that in a casino £2 is likely to be the minimum not maximum stake. You can lose much more than £100 on the spin of a roulette wheel…

Hancock: We’ll Be Staying in Eurovision

Guido is usually aligned with the demands of the ERG group of Tory Brexiters, but this time they’ve surely gone too far. Flamboyant Tory MP Michael Fabricant has suggested the UK should withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest after Brexit, asking Culture Secretary Matt Hancock:

“Does my right hon. Friend share my dismay that Brexit does not mean that we are leaving the Eurovision song contest?”

The Secretary of State shot down the idea:

“We should apply to the Eurovision Song Contest a principle that I try to apply to my life: whenever something goes wrong, we should try, try and try again, and maybe we will eventually get there.”

Karaoke lover Hancock must be tempted to enter himself…

Rudd Wrong About Migrant Removal Targets

Amber Rudd told the Home Affairs select committee yesterday: “We don’t have targets for removals… if you’re asking me are there numbers of people we expect to be removed, that’s not how we operate.”

Note the subtle change in line from the Home Office last night: It has never been policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet a target.

… Repeated by Matt Hancock on the Today programme this morning: “As far as I understand it, it has never been Home Office policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet the target.”

Because… this 2015 report sent to then Home Secretary Theresa May by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration shows: “For 2014/15 (10 full months) the Home Office set a target of 7,200 Voluntary Departures, an average of 120 per week, with the weekly target rising to 160 by the end of March 2015. For 2015/16, the annual target was raised to 12,000.”

You would have thought that, between them, the current and former Home Secretaries would know if the Home Office had migrant removal targets. Guess who is scheduled for today’s Press Gallery lunch…

Ofcom Boss Sacked For Opposing Brexit Wins Huge Pay-Off

An ultra-Remainer former quango chief will receive a huge pay-off from the taxpayer despite being sacked for openly criticising the government on Brexit. Former Economist editor Bill Emmott became head of Ofcom’s Content Board in 2015; as a journalist Emmott proposed extending the single market, advocated a new EU ‘energy union’ and made an anti-Brexit film for the BBC called The Great European Disaster Movie. He is a properly fanatical Europhile… 

The following year Emmott was let go having given an interview to an Italian newspaper headlined: “Outside Europe the UK dies”. He had also tweeted: “Prediction: Jeremy Corbyn will be Britain’s PM by 2020. Boris’s legacy” and “Gove scaremongers on migration free-for-all”. Ofcom bosses are subject to strict impartiality guidelines, all the more crucial in a referendum year…

Emmott took the government to the High Court over the circumstances of his departure and was granted a judicial review. Last month DCMS sneaked out a backpedalling statement:

“The parties now recognise that his departure from the post reflected changed circumstances since his recruitment and have agreed formal terms to resolve the dispute between them.”

Matt Hancock’s department has now agreed to pay a substantial sum in compensation, which Guido understands could be up to £80,000. An arch-Remainer paid off with your cash despite clearing bringing Ofcom into disrepute with his blatant anti-Brexit bias…

Matt Hancock: ‘I’m Sorry I’m Not the Prime Minister’

Silicon Roundabout’s Matt Hancock spoke at the 10 Downing Street charities reception on Monday night. Guido’s co-conspirator recounts his opener:

“Hello and welcome to Number Ten.

“Firstly, I’d like to apologise that I’m not the Prime Minister… [laughter]

“But it’s an honour to address so many people who do so much, working tirelessly every day, to make life better for the citizens of this country.”

If only there was an app where we could all share these gems…

Matt Hancock Calls App Britain

They may have the Silicon chip but we have the Silicon chap: Matt Hancock. The Culture Secretary is calling app Britain – he has created a new social network where fans can keep up with his every move.[…] Read the rest


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