Matt Hancock has been suspended as a Tory MP after joining the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The former Health Secretary lost the whip after it was announced he would appear on this year’s reality television show in Australia. Conservative Party whips, who are in charge of managing MPs, did not take well to Hancock’s decision to take part in the show while Parliament is sitting.
Simon Hart, the Chief Whip, said: “Following a conversation with Matt Hancock, I have considered the situation and believe this is a matter serious enough to warrant suspension of the whip with immediate effect.”
In Hancock’s constituency, Andy Drummond, deputy chairman (political) of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis. Quote me. You can quote me that.”
Hancock became infamous in June 2021 when he was forced to quit as Health Secretary after breaking coronavirus rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo. He was widely criticised by the public and opposition parties for violating regulations that he had helped put in place.
His suspension follows that of his colleague Nadine Dorries, who also joined the reality series in 2012 and had the whip suspended as a result.
Hancock’s decision to appear on the show was defended by one of his political allies, who said: “I’m A Celeb is the most watched show on TV. Matt doesn’t expect to serve in government again, so it’s an incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12 million Brits who tune in every single night.”
His words come as it was reported that Hancock would use his appearance to promise his work on dyslexia. The ally continued: “Where better to show the human side of those who make these decisions than with the most watched programme on TV? Politicians like Matt must go to where the people are – particularly those who are politically disengaged.
“Matt’s of the view that we must embrace popular culture. Rather than looking down on reality TV, we should see it for what it is – a powerful tool to get our message heard by younger generations.”
The source added that producers of the show have agreed that Hancock can communicate with them if there is an urgent constituency matter.
Hancock is also publishing a book, called ‘Pandemic Diaries’, which will document his time in government presiding over the Covid-19 crisis - prior to his resignation over kissing aide Gina Coladangelo. It is set to be published on December 6.
A statement from his office said: “Mr Hancock will give his unique perspective on how the NHS rose to the challenge, recognising the incredible hard work and sacrifice of so many, and offers an honest assessment of the lessons we need to learn for next time – because there will be a next time.”
This means the MP will be leaving the I’m A Celeb jungle just before its publication, after appearing alongside celebrities such as Boy George, Love Island icon Olivia Atwood, England Lioness Jill Scott MBE, broadcaster Chris Moyles, and presenter Charlene White.