Matt Hancock has the lost the Tory Party whip over his surprise plans to enter I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!
The former health secretary has signed up to the ITV show, which is due to air on November 6, as a late addition.
However, his plans mean he will no longer be able to sit as a Conservative MP in parliament.
Chief whip Simon Hart confirmed that Hancock, who represents West Suffolk in parliament, had been suspended.
“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,” he said.
On Monday night, celebrities including pop singer Boy George, Loose Women panellist Charlene White and broadcaster Chris Moyles were confirmed to be on the line-up.
The show will return to the jungle in Australia for the first time in two years after the Covid pandemic suspended production. Last year I’m A Celebrity was hosted in Wales because some restrictions were still in place.
Hancock served as health secretary during the early months of the pandemic but was forced to resign after it emerged he had broken restrictions while conducting an affair with an aide.
Explaining his desire to go on the show, a political ally of Hancock’s said he did not expect to serve in government again and saw it as an “incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12million Brits who tune in every single night”.
They also said Hancock, who is dyslexic, would use his time in the jungle as a platform to promote his campaign on the subject.
“Matt has always believed in communicating directly with the people he represents – whether that’s getting out and pounding the streets in West Suffolk, through all sorts of media or via those press conferences,” they said.
They said the show’s producers have agreed with Hancock that his constituency staff can communicate with him on “urgent” matters while he is in the jungle.
“There are many ways to do the job of being an MP,” they said, “Whether he’s in camp for one-day or three weeks, there are very few places people will be able to see a politician as they really are. Where better to show the human side of those who make these decisions than with the most watched programme on TV?”
According to the ally, Hancock initially turned down an approach to appear on the show because there was too much “instability” in government — but that he now felt able to since Rishi Sunak had taken over as prime minister.
Not everyone appears to be enthusiastic about Hancock’s jaunt in the jungle.
Andy Drummond, the deputy political chairman of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said he was looking forward to seeing Hancock “eating a kangaroo’s penis”.
“Quote me. You can quote me that.”