Matt Hancock loses conservative whip after agreeing to appear on I’m a Celebrity

Matt Hancock has had the Tory Whip suspended after it emerged he was stepping into the jungle for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

The former UK health secretary will be the 12th contestant to appear on the ITV reality show, which features famous faces performing grueling tasks like being choked on bugs or eating kangaroo penises.

But the MP for West Suffolk faced a backlash from Tory MPs and his constituency party for his participation – and will now sit as an independent. The show overlaps with the time when the House of Commons sits.

Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart said he believed the matter was “serious enough to warrant the suspension of the whip with immediate effect”, while Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, said: “I can’t wait for him eating a kangaroo’s penis. You can quote me on that.

Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said the Prime Minister believed that “at a difficult time for the country, MPs should work hard for their constituents, whether at home or in their constituencies.”

This week Hancock stepped down from the race to chair the Treasury select committee and announced a new book, Pandemic Diaries, about his experiences as health secretary during the Covid crisis. The Guardian understands it has already filmed another reality TV show this year – Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Hancock resigned as Health Secretary last year after CCTV footage leaked showing him kissing his closest aide Gina Coladangelo in his ministerial office, in breach of his own Covid rules on social distancing.

A source close to the minister said the show’s producers had agreed to his constituents continuing to communicate with him on pressing matters while he was in the jungle.

They also said Hancock did not expect to serve in the cabinet again. “I’m a Celeb is the most watched show on television. Matt doesn’t expect to serve in government again, so this is an incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12 million Brits who tune in every night,’ they said.

Hancock reportedly initially turned down an offer to appear on the show, but reconsidered after Liz Truss’s premiership disappeared as the government regained some semblance of stability. Hancock backed Sunak in the leadership race but was not asked to return to the cabinet.

“When he was first approached to participate, while flattered and naturally curious, it didn’t take him too long to turn down the opportunity due to the instability the government was facing. at the time,” the Hancock ally said. “Now, however, the government is stable.”

They said Hancock spoke to the whips “in the same way as any MP would on a visit abroad, which happens all the time”.

The source said politicians “need to go where the people are – especially those who are politically disengaged… Matt is of the view that we need to embrace popular culture. Rather than despise reality TV, we should see it for what it is – a powerful tool to get our message across to younger generations”.

Lobby Akinnola, of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said: “Matt Hancock is not a ‘celebrity’; he’s the former health secretary who oversaw one of the world’s highest death rates in the UK from Covid-19 while breaking his own lockdown rules.

“The fact that he is trying to capitalize on his terrible legacy, rather than being humble or seeking to reflect on the appalling consequences of his time in government, says a lot about the kind of person he is. ”

Hancock will donate to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk, but not the full fee, which will be disclosed in the Register of Members’ Interests.

Before the bushtucker trials begin, Hancock faces questions from Eric Pickles, the chairman of the Business Appointments Advisory Committee watchdog. As Hancock has left government in the past two years, he is bound by rules requiring him to consult the committee for clearance for post-ministerial roles.

The Guardian understands that the committee has not received a request to appear from Hancock and Lord Pickles will write to Hancock asking for an explanation. Breaches of the rules carry no financial penalties, but could reduce Hancock’s chances of receiving an honor.

Ten celebrities will join I’m a Celebrity this Sunday when the new series begins, and Hancock will be one of the latest “bombshell” arrivals, along with comedian Seann Walsh, The Sun reported.

Hancock is the latest personality from the political sphere to appear in the series after Nadine Dorries, Stanley Johnson and Lembit Öpik.

Dorries was suspended by the Conservative Party in 2012 after it emerged she had to take time off from parliament to be a candidate on the show. She was later censured by the parliamentary standards watchdog for failing to disclose her fees.

British politicians on reality TV – video

I am a celebrity returns to the Queensland jungle in Australia for the first time in two years, having moved to Wales during the pandemic. Last year’s competition was eventful, as Richard Madeley pulled out due to illness, and a storm forced producers to evacuate contestants and temporarily halt filming.

Other celebrities on the program this year include singer Boy George, rugby star Mike Tindall, England footballer Jill Scott, Charlene White of Loose Women, TV presenter Scarlette Douglas, comedian Babatunde Aleshé and radio host Chris Moyles.

There will also be a number of soap opera and reality TV stars, including Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver, Hollyoaks’ Owen Warner and Love Island’s Olivia Attwood.

. Matt Hancock loses whip conservative after accepting to appear in Celebrity Matt Hancock

. Matt Hancock loses conservative whip agreeing Celebrity