Matt Hancock has said viewers will get to see the real him “warts and all” during his stint on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
The former health secretary said lots of people have a view on him but insisted “that’s not the whole story”, and he wants to show that “politicians are people too”.
The West Suffolk MP, 44, will be seen entering the jungle on Wednesday night (9 November) alongside fellow late entry, comedian Seann Walsh. The pair’s arrival was teased in Tuesday’s episode of the popular ITV reality show, with hosts Ant and Dec confirming the two new contestants will take part in the next Bushtucker trial before joining camp.
Hancock has received widespread criticism from across the UK, including from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, over his decision to appear on the show while still serving as an MP.
The 44-year-old admitted he “does not expect to serve in government again”, but insisted he has had a lot of support since it was announced he would be taking part - a decision which resulted in having his Conservative Party whip suspended. It means Hancock is effectively expelled from the Conservative Party and must sit as an independent until the whip is reinstated.
He also reiterated that he could be reached at any point to deal with “urgent constituency matters” despite being over 10,000 miles away in the Australian jungle.
In a short teaser clip, Hancock said I’m A Celebrity (IAC) would be a good way to engage with a younger audience, but added he was not sure how fellow contestants would react when he walked into camp.
He said: “I don’t expect to serve in government again but there are lots of ways you can communicate and engage with people.
“When I got approached to take part, I did think long and hard about it but one of the reasons that I felt able to say yes was because the IAC team have put in place a system so I can be reached at any point on any urgent constituency matters.
“Lots of people have a view on me from being health secretary in the pandemic dealing with some very difficult issues, but that’s not the whole story. I am looking forward to throwing myself into it all like I do everything in life. You can’t hide anything in the jungle, you see somebody warts and all.
“I have had a lot of supportive messages from people who can see what I am trying to do to show that politicians are people too.”
Speaking ahead of his arrival in camp, he added: “There are lots of different ways to communicate with the public and we (politicians) are wrong if we think you can only do that on the traditional political shows where you are mainly only talking to people who take an active interest in politics.
“It’s important we engage with everyone, including young people, in who our politicians are and this programme is a good way to do that. I am looking forward to it.
‘Disappointed’ Sunak won’t be watching
The Prime Minister has said he is “very disappointed” in his former Cabinet colleague for joining the reality show
Despite Hancock arguing that it is his job as a politician to “go where the people are” rather than “sit in ivory towers in Westminster”, Sunak took the opposite view and said on his way to COP27 in Egypt that he supported the chief whip’s decision to suspend him 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.”
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues on Wednesday at 9pm on ITV and ITV Hub.