Prime minister Boris Johnson has written a response to Matt Hancock’s resignation.
He expressed regret at Hancock quitting and told him he should be “very proud” of what he has achieved.
Johnson said “abundant energy, intelligence and determination are Hancock’s “hallmark”.
“You should be immensely proud of your service. I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over,” Johnson added.
It comes after Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said on Friday the prime minister had accepted Hancock’s apology for breaching coronavirus lockdown restrictions and “considers the matter closed.”
The health secretary has resigned after photos and a video emerged of him breaking lockdown rules with his government aide, Gina Coladangelo.
Matt Hancock’s resignation comes after several Tory MPs joined calls for him to quit.
Writing to prime minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government “owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down”.
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.
“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this.
“I also need to be with my children at this time.”
“It has been the honour of my life to serve in your cabinet as secretary of state and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved,” he added.
Various politicians had called on Hancock to go
Upon seeing the prime minister’s initial reaction which suggested Johnson did not intend to sack Hancock, SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said: “Boris Johnson risks jeopardising the vital public health measures in place the longer he desperately clings on to his shamed Health Secretary – just like he did with Dominic Cummings.
“The Prime Minister must at long last do the right thing and put his responsibilities to public health first.
“There must be public confidence in those setting the rules and it cannot be the case that it is one rule for the Tory elite and another for the rest of us.
And Tory MP Duncan Baker joined a group of Tory MPs who criticised Hancock’s behaviour and called on him to resign.
UK public also thought Hancock should go
Among UK adults, 58 per cent thought Hancock should resign, and only 25 per cent didn’t think he should, based on a poll by Savanta ComRes.
And a group which represents those who lost loved ones because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, also called for Hancock to go.
The group wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson, urging him to sack Hancock from his role.