Matt Hancock UN: what is his new role with United Nations after quitting Cabinet over Gina Colangelo affair?

The former Health Secretary said he was “honoured” to have been appointed a special representative to the United Nations

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

The former Health Secretary will be responsible for helping African countries recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The appointment comes just four months after he resigned from his Cabinet role after being caught on leaked CCTV footage breaking social distancing rules by kissing his aide in office.

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.”

What will the role involve?

Mr Hancock’s role, which is unpaid, will focus on helping aid recovery from Covid-19 in African countries.

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

Vera Songew, the under secretary-general of the UN, praised Mr Hancock’s “success” in handling the pandemic response in the UK and said it 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.”

What has Matt Hancock said?

Mr Hancock said he was “honoured” to have been appointed in the role and will be working to support Africa in strengthening its economic recovery.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he added: “I’ll be working with the UN, the UN Economic Commissions for Africa (UNECA) to help African economic recovery from the pandemic and promote sustainable development.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in its impressive efforts to support Africa strengthen its economic recovery from the pandemic and the sustainability of its development.

“I care deeply about making this happen not only because of the strong economic opportunity but because we share a view of Africa as a strategic long-term partner.”

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 appointment comes just a day after a damning report from MPs was published about the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said errors and delays by the government and scientific advisers had cost lives during the pandemic.

The report criticised the UK’s preparation for a pandemic, saying it was far too focused on flu, and said ministers waited far too long to put lockdown measures in place early last year.

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”.

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