Jungle test

Hancock loses whip after agreeing to reality show

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock: heading for the jungle

Disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has lost the Tory party whip in parliament for agreeing to appear on the television reality show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

Mr Hancock will be the 12th contestant to take part in the latest series, which will be shot in Australia while parliament is sitting.

Tory 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.”

One of Mr Hancock’s supporters is alleged to have said that he does not expect to serve in Government again and wants the opportunity to re-engage with the 12 million viewers who watch participants put themselves through a number of tasks.

“Matt has told the whips in Parliament and he will use his time in the jungle to promote his dyslexia campaign,” the source was quoted as saying.

Mr Hancock will continue to an MP for West Suffolk, but will serve as an independent member of the Commons. While he will keep his party membership, he will not be able to stand for election as a Conservatives candidate, vote in party contests or stand for committee chair posts. It is understood he will declare his income from I’m A Celebrity and will make a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk.

He was forced to resign as Health Secretary after being caught on CCTV in a close encounter with with long-term aide Gina Coladangelo in breach of social distancing guidelines he was ordering the public to obey.

He was noticeably snubbed by Rishi Sunak when the new Prime Minister brushed past him as he waited to greet him outside Conservative Party headquarters following his election.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries also lost the whip when she went on the show in 2012. Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, now a columnist for The Times, caused a furious row in 2017 after news leaked out that she was flying to join the contest in Australia without first getting party approval to be away from Holyrood for up to three weeks.  

Neil Findlay said her decision to take part was “utterly ludicrous. It demeans politics when people get involved in that.”

Others joining Mr Hancock in the latest series include the former England rugby player and husband of the Princess Royal’s daughter Zara, Mike Tindall; 1980s pop star Boy George; Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood and DJ Chris Moyles.

Also appearing will be actor Owen Warner; Loose Women’s Charlene White; A Place In The Sun presenter Scarlette Douglas; Coronation Street’s Sue Cleaver; comedian Babatúndé Aléshé and retired England footballer Jill Scott.

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