Boris Johnson defends decision not to sack Matt Hancock on trip to Batley and Spen

Boris Johnson has told ITV News that people want to "focus on the way ahead" after he was asked why he chose not to sack Matt Hancock for breaching social distancing rules when he kissed an aide.

He added that there was a new Health Secretary in place by Saturday after the former Health Secretary resigned on Saturday evening after the revelations were published in The Sun on Friday.

Today the widow of Jason Kelk, who was the UK's longest Covid patient before he died in Leeds on June 19, said that Mr Johnson should have sacked Mr Hancock and that she was "angry" at his decision not to.

Susan Kelk said: "It should have happened straight away, he shouldn't have waited for Matt Hancock's resignation, he should have sacked him because really he was sticking his fingers up at the general public."

She added: "It makes me angry really, it makes me think they don't respect the general public and they're making us do things that they're just flouting."

Mr Johnson said that appreciates the sacrifices that people have made during the country's lockdowns over the last 16 months and that he knows what a "terrible time it has been for the country."

The Prime Minister was in Batley ahead of the by-election in the seat on Thursday.

He said that voters in the area were not focused on the former Health Secretary but on "a positive change" in the area.

A total of 16 candidates will contest the by-election on Thursday, although the poll is being seen as a straight two-way fight between Labour and the Conservatives.

The full list of candidates standing in the by-election in alphabetical order of surname is:

  • Paul Bickerdike - Christian Peoples Alliance

  • Mike Davies - Alliance for Green Socialism

  • Jayda Fransen - Independent

  • George Galloway - Workers Party of Britain

  • Tom Gordon - Liberal Democrats

  • Thérèse Hirst, English Democrats

  • Howling Laud Hope - The Official Monster RavingLoony Party

  • Susan Laird, Heritage Party

  • Kim Leadbeater - Labour

  • Oliver Purser - Social Democratic Party

  • Corey Robinson - Yorkshire Party

  • Andrew Smith - Rejoin EU

  • Ryan Stephenson - Conservatives

  • Jack Thomson - UK Independence Party (UKIP)

  • Jonathan Tilt - Freedom Alliance Supporting Personal Freedom

  • Anne Marie Waters - The For Britain Movement