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West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock given job as UN special envoy in Africa



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Matt Hancock has announced he has been appointed a special representative to the United Nations.

The former Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP will focus on helping African countries recover from Covid-19.

He said he was 'honoured' to have been given the role, adding on Twitter: “I’ll be working with the UN, the UN Economic Commissions for Africa to help African economic recovery from the pandemic and promote sustainable development.”

Former Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock
Former Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock

It comes four months after he resigned from his Cabinet role for breaking social distancing rules by kissing and embracing an aide in his office.

According to the UN, African countries face paying more than £300 billion to recover from the pandemic.

The under secretary-general of the UN, Vera Songwe, said Mr Hancock’s 'success' in handling the UK’s pandemic response is a testament to the strengths he will bring to the role.

In a letter posted on Twitter by Mr Hancock, Ms Songwe said: “The acceleration of vaccines that has led the UK move faster towards economic recovery is one testament to the strengths that you will bring to this role, together with your fiscal and monetary experience.

“The role will support Africa’s cause at the global level and ensure the continent builds forward better, leveraging financial innovations and working with major stakeholders like the G20, UK government and COP26.”

In his acceptance letter, also posted on Twitter, the Conservative MP wrote: “As we recover from the pandemic so we must take this moment to ensure Africa can prosper.”

His new role will be unpaid.

It comes as a damning report from MPs was published on how errors and delays by the Government and scientific advisers cost lives during the pandemic.

The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said the UK’s preparation for a pandemic was far too focused on flu, while ministers waited too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020.

In a wide-ranging report, MPs said the UK’s planning was too 'narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model' that failed to learn the lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola.

Former chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies told MPs there was 'groupthink', with infectious disease experts not believing that 'Sars, or another Sars, would get from Asia to us'.

Mr Hancock resigned as Health Secretary in June after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing an aide, in breach of social distancing rules.

Speaking at the time, he said: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.”

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