Matt Hancock still has 'widespread support' of Newmarket despite town council blasting him as a hypocrite who has 'neglected the best interests of his constituents'
Disgraced MP Matt Hancock still has the 'widespread support' of Newmarket, a councillor has said, despite its town council blasting him as a hypocrite who has 'neglected the best interests of his constituents'.
Matt Hancock quit his job as health secretary last month after he was caught kissing his advisor Gina Coladangelo and on Monday Newmarket Town Council passed a vote of no confidence in the MP for West Suffolk.
But Cllr Andy Drummond, a former mayor of Newmarket, said it was 'party politics at the lowest level the result should be taken as such'.
Cllr Drummond, who serves on the town, district and county councils, said: “Only five of the 14 Newmarket Town Councillors present voted in favour of this motion, so this was hardly an overwhelming response, and only won by the Labour mayor’s casting vote."
The Conservative councillor added: "This was a case of nothing more than local party politics at the lowest level and the result should be taken as such. Matt Hancock has always had, and continues to have, widespread support by the people of Newmarket.”
At the meeting on Monday the no confidence motion in Mr Hancock, presented by deputy mayor Cllr Chris O'Neill, was passed on the casting vote of the town’s Labour mayor, Cllr Michael Jefferys, after the council was deadlocked at five votes to five, with four councillors abstaining.
The motion read: “Newmarket Town Council states its concerns that the West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock has neglected the best interests of his constituents. As Secretary of State for Health he has demonstrated hypocrisy and hubris in the pursuit of his own interests. Newmarket Town Council states that we no longer have confidence in Matthew Hancock MP.”
Cllr O’Neill said he believed the West Suffolk Conservative Association should now de-select Mr Hancock. “I think that it has caused great embarrassment to this town that we have an MP who told people what they should be doing and to abide by the rules which clearly he had not,” he said.
And Labour councillor Kevin Yarrow, who seconded the no-confidence motion, said: “I was very concerned to learn of Mr Hancock’s activities as our MP and Secretary of State for Health and his arrogance in the situation.”
But former mayor, Cllr Rachel Hood, said: “I think the council is embarrassing itself by belittling our MP. Our progress in rolling out the vaccine programme is second to none and I find it embarrassing to denigrate someone who has done such a great job for our country.”
And she added: “The West Suffolk Conservative Association has issued a statement and that stands.”
That statement expressed the association’s support for Mr Hancock who it said had served the constituency tirelessly over the past 11 years.
“Matt has given us a heartfelt apology for recent events, has faced up to the mistakes he has made on both a human and a professional level and expressed sincere contrition,” it said.
Cllr Douglas Hall, who also backed the motion, said: “Our MP has broken the law and let down the country.” And he described Mr Hancock as “morally corrupt”.
Immediately after the recorded vote, Cllr Hood, together with fellow Tory councillors, Andy Drummond and James Lay, stunned fellow councillors by storming out of the meeting.
“It’s a disgrace. They can’t deal with a democratic decision,” said Cllr Yarrow.
After the meeting, a spokesman for the West Suffolk Conservative Association said: “Even the Labour/Independent controlled local town council couldn’t find a majority against Matt Hancock.
“We are very grateful for the strong local support Matt is receiving.”