ITV has bent the usual isolation rules of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! to allow Matt Hancock to reply to emails and attend Zoom meetings to keep in touch with his constituents.
Normally, celebrities starring in the reality show are forced to cut off all contact with the outside world after landing in Australia. Other contestants were permitted a couple of short calls home before having to shut off their phones and isolate ahead of entering the I’m A Celebrity jungle, but sources close to Hancock say he has been given a different arrangement.
The West Suffolk MP, 44, is said to have been granted permission to use a laptop “to carry on working” as part of a deal with ITV bosses, and has also been allowed to speak to his personal adviser via Zoom, the Daily Mail reports. Meanwhile, fellow stars on the show had their devices confiscated ahead of entering the jungle and were banned from contacting the outside world.
A source told the newspaper: “Matt has been given a different arrangement during his isolation period to the other contestants. He has been allowed his phone and laptop so that he can carry on working and keep in touch with his constituents.”
“The only option for the rest of the cast is to have one designated family member or friend from back home to receive updates on their welfare via a chaperone. ’Some feel he has been given preferential treatment ahead of his time on the show, especially as stars such as Charlene [White] have found the isolation process extremely difficult and emotionally draining.”
ITV confirmed to NationalWorld that Hancock does not have access to his personal phone, but he has been granted use of a laptop while he is in isolation for “work purposes only”.
A spokeswoman said: “Matt does not have his personal phone at all and any laptop access is for constituency and monitored Zoom work purposes only whilst in isolation. Matt does not have general internet access.”
Hancock claimed when he first announced he was taking part in the show that he would be able to work even whilst in camp and could speak to constituents every day from the Bush Telegraph. However, this is not the case.
An ITV spokesman confirmed that celebrities cannot speak to the outside world while in camp, unless there are “exceptional circumstances’”, such as an emergency. This means may not be able to contact constituents for almost three weeks.
Hancock has been isolating at a secret location in Queensland, Australia, and is expected to make his entrance to camp midweek. It is rumoured that he will enter alongside former Strictly Come Dancing Star Seann Walsh.
Show hosts Ant and Dec teased his appearance on the opening show on Sunday, stating: “We’ve also got not one, but two late arrivals on the way. Fortunately, we’ve managed to keep their identities a complete secret. Nobody’s got a clue who they are."
Dec then pretended to look shocked and added: “You’re gonna be so surprised guys. We’ll be rolling out the welcome ‘mat’ for them very soon.”
Sunak ‘disappointed’ in Hancock
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is “very disappointed” in his former Cabinet colleague for joining the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! - a decision which caused him to have his Conservative whip suspended. It means Hancock is effectively expelled from the Conservative Party and must sit as an independent until the whip is reinstated.
Despite the suspension, Hancock has defended his decision to enter the jungle saying it was driven by a need to “deliver important messages to the masses”. He said it is his job as a politician to “go where the people are” rather than “sit in ivory towers in Westminster”.
But Sunak took the opposite view and said on his way to COP27 in Egypt that he supported the chief whip’s decision to suspend Hancock from the party. Sunak told The Sun he was “very disappointed” in Hancock and said he should instead be “working hard” for his constituents.
He said: “I think politics is a noble profession, at its best – it can and should be – but it’s incumbent on politicians to earn people’s respect and trust. They do that by working hard for their constituents, as the vast majority of MPs do – that is why I was very disappointed with Matt’s decision.”
When asked whether he would be watching the programme, Sunak told the newspaper: “I genuinely won’t have the time is the honest answer.”