The National:

ANOTHER day, another Matt Hancock controversy: the Health Secretary appears, in a picture published in The Sun, to be having an affair with Gina Coladangelo, the director of a lobbying firm, who happens to be a friend from university he also appointed to work as an advisor at the Department of Health and Social Care.

There’s a lot of information here, but to me there is only one piece that really matters: unfortunately, this one important piece was not what I read about most today.

I couldn’t care less about Matt Hancock’s private life. Some might say that it is not surprising: I am, after all, French, and we have, according to our reputation, very little care for what consenting adults do in their lives.

I don’t believe Matt Hancock should feel any fear of having to quit because of that: it is none of our business. And imagine if Boris Johnson asked him to leave his government because he couldn’t tolerate his tumultuous private life: wouldn’t that be ironic?

READ MORE: Matt Hancock accused of cheating on his wife with close aide Gina Coladangelo

The second element is that the picture was taken in early May: the guidance to avoid close contact with people from outside the household still applied. The Health Secretary was in breach of the guidance: he had to apologise for that today.

Of course, guidance needs to be followed as rigorously as possible. However, does it even remotely compare with travelling halfway through the country while knowingly having Covid? It is not unreasonable to assume that we may all not have always been perfect with the coronavirus rules: politicians from all parties have been caught red-handed, often for more blatant disrespect of the guidance. We should, as No10 said (and you won’t see me agree with No10 often), “consider the matter closed".

The real fact that needs to be looked into is that Matt Hancock offered a paid government job to a friend of his who is a lobbyist.

The National: Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock

This news is the latest in a long string of allegations of “chumocracy” against the Health Secretary and the UK Government in general, accused of giving access, contracts, and jobs to friends and Conservative party donors. Public money and how those in power spend it should be the focus of the debate, not Matt Hancock’s life.

A DHSC spokesperson said that the appointment of Gina Coladangelo followed usual procedures. This answer sounds very familiar: it is the same that is given every time. At this stage, one has to wonder if the procedures are still fit for purpose, or simply too murky.

The most depressing consequence is that I feel we are becoming numb to these endless controversies, and they are causing more people to tune off politics.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock 'affair' aide's relative works at firm with NHS contracts, reports say

I find it quite astonishing that these fresh damaging controversies against the Health Secretary, who has already been badly discredited by the Prime Minister’s former aide Dominic Cummings, are not preventing the Tories from leading in the polls: they are still and always ahead, which says a lot about the weakness of the Labour Party.

Why would you pay any attention to something you think is useless because disconnected politicians are in it for themselves and draw profit for their close circle from being in government?

We saw it, for various more reasons, last Sunday in the first round of the French local elections: abstention reached its highest level in the history of the Fifth Republic. The figures were chilling, especially among younger voters and the country’s poorest areas.

A total of 87% of those aged 18 to 24 didn’t turn up to vote. My own 19-year-old sister had to be dragged to the polling station to! 

“A democracy without voters is not really a democracy anymore”, leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon said on the night of the results.

“This refusal to participate is like a ballot box strike”.