Matt Hancock failing in his job as MP by going on I’m a Celebrity, says Cabinet minister



att Hancock is failing in his job as an MP by going on “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”, a Cabinet minister said on Wednesday.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper slammed the former Health Secretary for agreeing to fly to Australia to take part in the jungle show.

He told Sky News: “As a former Chief Whip, I very much support the decision the Chief Whip has taken which is Members of Parliament’s first responsibility when Parliament is sitting is to serve their constituents.

“The Chief Whip has made the position clear which he has made a decision that going on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is not compatible with doing your job properly as a Member of Parliament which is why the whip has been taken away.”

He declined to express a view on whether there should now be a by-election in Mr Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency.

It comes as Mr Hancock said he had turned down I’m A Celebrity… twice but now the time is right to enter the jungle thanks to the “stable” Government under Rishi Sunak.

The disgraced former health secretary was suspended as a Tory MP instantly for taking part in the reality show but defended his decision to fly 10,000 to Australia from his West Suffolk constituents by saying he needs to “go to where the people are — not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster”.

Writing in The Sun, he said: “I thought long and hard about this — in fact I turned down I’m A Celebrity . . .  twice this summer, but when they approached me for a third time last week, I had a change of heart.

“When I was first approached to take part — while I was flattered and naturally curious — it didn’t take me too long to turn the opportunity down because of the instability government was facing at the time.


“Now though, the government is stable. Rishi Sunak has made a great start and I know he has got what it takes to be a superb PM.”

He said entering the jungle would give him a bigger audience than his pandemic press conferences with Jonathan van-Tam and Professor Chris Whitty: “Like you, politicians are human, with hopes and fears, and normal emotions just like everyone else.

“Where better to show the human side of those who make these decisions than with the most watched programme on TV? And there are many ways to communicate. It’s one of the many important things I learnt during the pandemic.”

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, though he did not say he will give up the full amount.


Mr Hancock said he wants to use the “incredible platform” to raise awareness of dyslexia with his goal of having no child with the learning difficulty leaving school undiagnosed.

He finished: “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. I was elected by the people, and it’s important to engage with voters, especially ­younger voters, no matter where they are, and show the human side of politicians.”

Mr Hancock was forced to quit as health secretary in June 2021 after breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.

One Tory MP described Mr Hancock as an “absolute prat” as campaigners for families bereaved in the Covid-19 pandemic accused him of trying to “cash in on his terrible legacy”.

In Mr Hancock’s constituency, Andy Drummond, deputy chairman (political) of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis. Quote me. You can quote me on that.”

Chief 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.”

The line-up of 10 celebrities already on the show include singer Boy George, Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver, Hollyoaks’ Owen Warner, Love Island’s Olivia Attwood, former England rugby player Mike Tindall, TV presenter Scarlette Douglas, Loose Women’s Charlene White, Radio X host Chris Moyles, England football player Jill Scott and comedian Babatunde Aléshé.

The other latecomer to I’m A Celebrity was reported to be comedian Seann Walsh, 36.

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