Lord Bethell, Matt Hancock’s close ally who admitted to using his personal email for government affairs during the pandemic, has been sacked by Boris Johnson.
As the Prime Minister’s reshuffle progressed into its third day, Bethell was among a series of casualties among junior ministers.
The hereditary peer and nightclub entrepreneur was investigated by the House of Lords committee in July after it emerged he sponsored a parliamentary pass for the lover of the former Secretary of Health, Gina Coladangelo.
He has since been involved in legal action for his use of private emails. Bethell, who oversaw the award of the Covid contracts, admitted to the practice but denied any wrongdoing, telling Lords: “I have read and signed the ministerial code and seek to uphold it in everything I do . “
Deputy Labor chief Angela Rayner welcomed Bethell’s departure, but said he should have intervened earlier. She tweeted: “If Boris Johnson had had any integrity, he would have sacked him a long time ago. Bethell used the ministerial office and taxpayer dollars to enrich his friends instead of serving the public and was dishonest about his private emails.
Hancock resigned after being filmed clinch with Coladangelo, whom he had known since the couple had been at Oxford University more than two decades ago. She and Bethell both participated in Hancock’s campaign for Conservative leadership in 2019.
Johnson’s reshuffle began on Wednesday with a brutal elimination of cabinet ministers deemed to have underperformed, including gaff-prone Gavin Williamson.
Dominic Raab was dismissed as Foreign Secretary in favor of Liz Truss, albeit with the title of Deputy Prime Minister, making it official that he is replacing Johnson – at Prime Minister’s Questions, for example – when is absent.
Johnson convened his new cabinet for the first time on Friday morning – without masks – and gave them what he called a “half-time pep talk,” stressing the need to keep their promises and “keep up to date.” level ”the country.
The reshuffle continued until Friday, with the junior ranks being filled. The appointments included Norfolk MP George Freeman as minister for science, research and innovation in the business department, and Lewes MP Maria Caulfield as junior health minister.
Johnson sacked a number of longtime middle-ranking ministers, including John Whittingdale of the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport and Nick Gibb of the Department of Education, promoting loyal young people in their place.
The more menial jobs – private parliamentary secretaries or PPS – are expected to be filled over the weekend, with a large chunk of 2019 MPs hoping to get a call.