Matt Hancock suspended as Tory MP for joining I’m a Celebrity
Matt Hancock has been suspended as a Conservative MP for agreeing to appear on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
The former health secretary, who was forced to resign after breaking his own Covid rules to have an extramarital affair, will soon be unveiled as the 12th contestant on the show.
The programme will be shot in Australia while parliament is sitting.
Chief Tory whip Simon Hart 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.”
Number 10 also launched an attack on Hancock, with Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson saying “MPs should be working hard for their constituents, whether that’s in the house or in their constituency”.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries had the Tory whip suspended for six months after appearing on the reality TV show in 2012.
I’m a Celeb is famous for getting its contestants to perform strenuous physical tasks and to eat “jungle foods” during challenges.
Dorries ate a camel’s toe and an ostrich’s anus during her time on the programme.
A political ally of Hancock 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 12m Brits who tune in every single night.
“Matt has told the whips in parliament and he will use his time in the jungle to promote his dyslexia campaign.”
They added that the former MP was “flattered and naturally curious” when approached by ITV producers, but that he initially refused “because of the instability government was facing at the time”.
“Now though, the government is stable. Rishi Sunak has made a great start and the whole of the Conservative party is united behind him. Rishi has a big majority, so he can get his agenda through parliament,” they said.
Hancock was one of the most senior members of Boris Johnson’s government until he was forced to resign for breaking Covid-19 rules by having an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo.
The extramarital affair was revealed when security footage of the pair kissing was leaked to The Sun.
The pair subsequently split with their respective spouses and now live together.
Hancock’s I’m a Celeb appearance may anger his West Suffolk constituents, with the leader of the local Conservative party venting his fury to Press Association.
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman 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 has advocated for liberal regulation of cryptocurrency and for dyslexia awareness since returning to the backbenches.
He was also expected to stand to become chair of the Treasury Select Committee in parliament, after Mel Stride was promoted to Rishi Sunak’s cabinet.
However, he ruled himself out of the race last week.