‘I haven’t lost my marbles – or had too many pina coladas’: Why Matt Hancock said ‘yes’ to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! | Politics News


Former health secretary Matt Hancock has said his decision to enter the I’m A Celebrity jungle was driven by a need to “deliver important messages to the masses”.

Mr Hancock has revealed he will be jetting off to the jungle in Australia to appear as a contestant on the popular ITV reality show.

His decision has meant his whip has been removed – effectively expelling him from the Conservative parliamentary party and forcing him to sit as an independent until it is reinstated.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock smiles after leaving a cabinet meeting, the first following a reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May, in London, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Pic: AP

But he is unbowed, telling The Sun newspaper: “It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are – not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster.”

The MP, who has been widely mocked on social media and by some colleagues for the move, said producers had asked him twice over the summer if he would appear, but he turned them down.

When, he said, the government was more stable following Liz Truss‘s short-lived stint as PM, he was asked again, and agreed.

He told the paper’s readers: “The truth is, I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas.

“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?

“There are those who got their news from brilliant shows like This Morning, Loose Women and Gogglebox. It’s popular TV shows like these – and I’m A Celebrity … of course – that help to deliver important messages to the masses.

“Rather than looking down on reality TV, we should see it for what it is – a powerful tool to get our message heard by younger generations.

“Reality TV is a very different way to communicate with the electorate – it’s both honest and unfiltered.”

Ant and Dec are back hosting I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Pic: ITV
Ant and Dec are back hosting the show that has been make or break for a number of celebrities. Pic: ITV

Mr Hancock said that, as someone who had struggled at school with undiagnosed dyslexia, he would be using the platform to widen education about the condition – and would make a donation from his to causes supporting dyslexia and to St Nicholas Hospice in his constituency of Suffolk.

“I want to raise the ­profile of my dyslexia campaign to help every dyslexic child unleash their potential – even if it means taking an unusual route to get there … via the Australian jungle!

“I’m A Celebrity … is watched by millions of Brits up and down the country.

“I want to use this incredible platform to raise awareness, so no child leaves primary school not knowing if they have dyslexia.”

Read more:
Politicians who have traded Westminster for reality TV

Matt Hancock says the vaccine rollout was a team effort

‘Now he’s absconding as an MP’

Rivka Gottlieb, from the COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, was not ready to forgive the former health secretary for his handling of the pandemic.

Mr Hancock stepped down after breaching lockdown rules by conducting an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.

Ms Gottlieb criticised his decision to appear on the show as “some kind of popularity quest” and of being “not interested in making any amends for the devastation he caused to tens of thousands of families”.

She told Sky News: “He made catastrophic mistake after catastrophic mistake. He has presided over one of the worst death tolls in the COVID pandemic.

“He’s been an absolutely appalling health minister, and now he’s going to abscond from his job as an MP to go off and play in the jungle and self promote.”

Mr Hancock is the bookies’ favourite to do the most bushtucker trials, though his odds to win the competition are significantly slimmer.

The politician will appear alongside pop icon Boy George and ex-rugby player Mike Tindall, who is married to the King’s niece Zara Tindall.

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


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