The 42-year-old dramatically quit this evening – the day after video footage emerged of him kissing an aide in his ministerial office in a breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Images and video showed Mr Hancock in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo last month, and the health secretary was facing increasing pressure to quit over the breaking of social-distancing rules.
Now the former top Tory has spoken of his shame in a video released on his Twitter account.
The 79-second video shows Mr Hancock standing glumly in front of a hedge, wearing a grey shirt.
During the recording – which notched up almost 600,000 views in 30 minutes – Mr Hancock said: ‘I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made – that you have made – and those of us who have made these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.’
Mr Hancock continued by praising all those involved in tackling the coronavirus crisis.
‘I want to thank people for their incredible sacrifices and what they have done, everybody working in the NHS, across social care, everyone involved in the vaccine programme and frankly everybody in this country who has risen to the challenges that we have seen over this past 18 months,’ he added.
‘i’m very proud of what we have done to protect the NHS at the peak to deliver that vaccine rollout – one of the fastest in the world – and I look forward to supporting the government and prime minister from the backbenches to make sure we can get out of this pandemic, we’re so close to the end, and then build back better so that thins country can fulfill its potential which is so great and I will do that with all of my heart.’
The release came just minutes after Mr Hancock wrote to Boris Johnson, informing the prime minister of his decision to step down.
In the letter, Mr Hancock said: ‘The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading up out of this crisis.
‘We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.’
In response, the PM wrote: ‘You should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us.’
Mr Johnson had refused to sack Mr Hancock, with his spokesman saying the PM considered the matter closed after receiving the West Suffolk MP’s apology on Friday.
The move drew criticism from Labour and some Tory MPs.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has tonight blasted the lack of action from PM, branding it a ‘sign of weakness’.
The Labour shadow armed forces minister said: ‘Mr Hancock broke the law, breached the ministerial code and created serious conflict of interest questions. His position as health secretary was untenable. It was a sign of weakness that the prime minister didn’t sack him.’