Matt Hancock has landed a new gig at the United Nations but let’s just stay congratulations cards are not the latest good at risk of suffering shortages.
The former health secretary – who resigned after footage and images were published of him kissing his aide while social distancing measures were in place – has been appointed as a special representative helping Africa’s economy recover from Covid.
Hancock’s official title will be “UN special representative on financial innovation and climate change for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa”.
The UN under secretary general, Vera Songwe, said Hancock’s “success” in handling the UK’s pandemic response was a testament to the strengths he would bring to the role.
In a letter, which Hancock posted on Twitter, 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.”
His new role will be unpaid and he will continue as a Conservative MP.
But reacting to his appointment, Hancock was met with a barrage of criticism from public figures including a number of Labour MPs who accused him of “failing upwards”.
Others pointed out the timing of the appointment – which was on the same day a report from MPs was published concluding that the government made a number of mistakes during the early days of the pandemic, including not locking down early enough, which led to excess deaths.
Nick Dearden, director of group Global Justice Now, which campaigns for jabs to be rolled out across the world, said to the Guardian: “The audacity of this man claiming to help African nations and promote sustainable development is sickening.”
However, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, said it was a “fascinating and important appointment” – which we think is a compliment?
He added: “Boosting the economies of Africa is one of the most essential tasks of this generation.”
Let’s just hope Hancock is up to the job.