So that is the way it ends for Matt Hancock (for now).
After months of main the nation by means of the pandemic and being caught in his personal political crises alongside the way in which, the well being secretary was introduced down not by his failures however by his private life.
As quickly because the bombshell pictures of that embrace had been splashed on the entrance web page of The Solar Mr Hancock was preventing a dropping battle.
Not as a result of he was caught up in an extramarital affair – however as a result of he was caught out breaking his personal social distancing steering, presumably the regulation and placing his lover on the general public payroll.
He had tried to hold on, refusing to fall on his sword after the photographs of him embracing Gina Coladangelo in his workplace on the Division of Well being had been revealed.
However ever since the scandal broke MPs, ministers and authorities aides have been whispering that the well being secretary could not cling on.
As one cupboard minister advised me, his “credibility had collapsed”.
“He did the correct factor and resigned, not like Dominic Cummings.”
However what helped save Mr Cummings again in Might 2020, the truth is helped bury Mr Hancock.
Whereas the Quantity 10 group rallied MPs and ministers to publicly assist (or at the very least not publicly criticise) the prime minister’s chief aide when his job hung within the stability over his journey to Durham and Barnard Citadel, Mr Hancock discovered no such assist.
What he discovered was not simply silence, however the rising disquiet amongst colleagues changing into extra vocal because the scandal ran.
Whether or not he needed to stop or not, ultimately Mr Hancock had little choice. His place had turn into untenable.
For the prime minister’s half, one one who is aware of him nicely advised me Boris Johnson would have been loath to sack Mr Hancock.
He’s “nonetheless sore” from being sacked from Michael Howard’s frontbench in 2004 for mendacity over his personal affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt.
And he’s recognized for digging in over scandals round his prime group – be it Mr Cummings over Durham, or Priti Patel over bullying accusations.
However whereas he stated he was sorry to obtain Mr Hancock’s resignation, he should too be relieved.
This scandal was solely going to construct, with questions surrounding the appointment of Ms Coladangelo to the well being division’s board, and whether or not Mr Hancock broke the legal guidelines he himself wrote not going away.
Think about Mr Johnson at one in every of his common press conferences having to defend Mr Hancock publicly whereas the general public regarded on. It is political capital he’d slightly not burn.
However there may be criticism too that he didn’t present management and take away Mr Hancock versus ready for the well being secretary to throw within the towel.
Keir Starmer, the Labour chief, tweeted on Saturday night time: “Boris ought to have sacked him.”
It’s a view shared by a few of his personal MPs, who had been quietly livid at Mr Hancock’s conduct and the broader fallout and demanded Quantity 10 did one thing about it. Mr Johnson this weekend a bit of tarnished by another person’s sleaze.
And he additionally loses the scapegoat for the general public inquiry into his dealing with of the pandemic which begins subsequent yr.
MPs overtly discuss how Mr Hancock could be stored on as well being secretary till then – regardless of the leaked textual content messages from the PM describing him as “f***ing ineffective” – so Mr Johnson would have somebody to sack over his authorities’s dealing with of the COVID pandemic.
Mr Hancock beat him to it.