Ex-Cabinet minister heads to the Australian jungle later this month.
Former U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock has been suspended as a Conservative MP after signing up for the popular reality TV show I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
Hancock will lose the Tory whip and must sit as an independent MP after agreeing to join a cast of celebrities eating insects in the Australian jungle. It is unclear how much he will be paid.
The government chief whip, Simon Hart, said it was a “serious” matter for Hancock to leave the U.K. for an extended period while Parliament is sitting, purely to take part in a TV show.
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association — Hancock’s local Tory organization — told the Press Association he was looking forward to seeing the former Cabinet minister “eating a kangaroo’s penis.”
But an ally of Hancock described it as an “incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12 million Brits who tune in every single night,” and said he intends to use the platform to promote his dyslexia awareness campaign.
They added Hancock had turned down an initial approach “because of the instability government was facing,” but that he will now take part because “the government is stable” under Rishi Sunak’s leadership.
Hancock’s Tory colleague Nadine Dorries was also suspended from the party for appearing on the same program in 2012. She had the whip restored six months later and was eventually promoted to the Cabinet.
Hancock served in the Cabinet as health secretary throughout the COVID
-19 pandemic, before losing his job in June 2021 after conducting an extra-marital affair in contravention of lockdown rules.
He had been seeking a route back into frontline politics by standing to be chairman of the Commons Treasury select committee. He has now withdrawn from that race to immerse himself in a different kind of wilderness.