Rishi Sunak ‘very disappointed’ in Matt Hancock for joining I’m A Celebrity cast and won’t be watching

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The Prime Minister said he supported the chief whip’s decision to suspend Hancock from the Conservative Party

The Prime Minister has said he is “very disappointed” in his former Cabinet colleague Matt Hancock for joining the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.

The MP for West Suffolk has his Conservative whip suspended after agreeing to be a contestant on the popular ITV show while parliament is sitting.

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His decision to join the show meant his whip has been removed, effectively expelling him from the Conservative Party and forcing him to sit as an independent until it is reinstated.

Hancock has defended his decision to enter the jungle saying his decision was driven by a need to “deliver important messages to the masses”, adding that it is his job as a politician to “go where the people are” rather than “sit in ivory towers in Westminster”.

But Rishi Sunak took the opposite view and said on his way to COP27 in Egypt on Sunday (6 November) that he supported the chief whip’s decision to suspend Hancock from the party, adding that he would not be watching the show.

The Prime Minister has said he is “very disappointed” in Matt Hancock (Photo: Getty Images)The Prime Minister has said he is “very disappointed” in Matt Hancock (Photo: Getty Images)
The Prime Minister has said he is “very disappointed” in Matt Hancock (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Sunak told The Sun he was “very disappointed” in the former health secretary and said he should instead be “working hard” for his constituents.

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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.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who sits as an independent MP after having the whip removed by his party, also criticised Hancock’s move.

Speaking at a cost-of-living protest on Saturday, Corbyn told the PA news agency: “I think it’s complete nonsense that he goes on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

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“He’s a member of Parliament, he’s got a constituency, he should be representing them, not himself on some sort of personality parade.”

Hancock insists ‘I haven’t lost my marbles’

Hancock insisted “I haven’t lost my marbles” by deciding to appear on the ITV reality show, arguing it will allow him to “go to where the people are”.

The West Suffolk MP said his “first priority” is to his constituents as he flew more than 10,000 miles to join the show in Australia, which started on Sunday.

He said in an article for The Sun that the show is “a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics”, adding that reality TV is an “honest and unfiltered” way to communicate with voters.

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He wrote: “It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are — not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster. There are many ways to do the job of being an MP. Whether I’m in camp for one day or three weeks, there are very few places people will be able to see a politician as they really are.”

He added: “So, the truth is, I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to.”

Hancock said he wants to use the “incredible platform” to raise awareness of dyslexia. He said he turned down the programme “twice this summer” but had a “change of heart” after he was asked for a third time last week.

The MP said it was not the money that changed his mind, saying he will make “a donation” to St Nicholas Hospice Care in Suffolk, although he does not say he will give up the full amount.

He added that he feels able to go to the jungle now that the “government is stable”, and said he can be reached on “any urgent constituency matters”.

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