MATT Hancock has been urged to consider his future as an MP after jetting off to Australia to take part in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The former health secretary’s colleagues were scathing at the decision to take part in the ITV reality show.
He has been suspended by the Conservatives and will now sit as an independent in the Commons.
Asked on LBC whether the former health secretary had made a misjudgment, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “I think members of parliament should focus on doing their job, serving their constituents. That’s our first priority.
“I think we can draw conclusions from the fact that the whip has been taken away that perhaps Mr Hancock hasn’t made the right judgment in this case.”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said Mr Hancock should quit as an MP and trigger a by-election.
She said: “He is abandoning his constituents by going to the jungle and is shirking from his responsibilities. In any normal workplace he’d be sacked.”
Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said the Prime Minister was unlikely to be tuning in to see the MP in the jungle.
“I don’t think it’s on his watchlist, he probably doesn’t have time,” she said.
Mr Hancock defended his decision in an article for The Sun, claiming it was “a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics”.
He said reality TV is an “honest and unfiltered” way to communicate with voters.
“It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are – not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster,” Mr Hancock wrote.
“There are many ways to do the job of being an MP. Whether I’m 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.”
He added: “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.”
Mr Hancock said he wants to use the “incredible platform” to raise awareness of dyslexia and insisted it “wasn’t the cheque” that made him decide to join the show.
Kezia Dugdale, the former Scottish Labour leader, who shocked Holyrood when she took part in the show in 2017, said Mr Hancock’s ambitions may not be realised.
In a candid column in the Times, the ex-MSP said she had agreed to do the show to “build a profile” and for “cold hard cash.”
“While I never thought I’d be discussing the finer aspects of taxation policy around the campfire, I did think there was a chance of getting some more politics into the programme,” she said.
“In truth, I also needed the cash at the time. I was facing a big defamation case in court, a case I’d go on to win, but for a time five years ago I had many a sleepless night about how I might pay my legal bills if things went awry and this programme offered an avenue out of a tricky financial situation.”
Ms Dugdale said there was an opportunity for Mr Hancock to “bring a great deal of comfort to people with dyslexia, for example, by talking about his own experiences and how he’s reached the highest offices in the land despite of it.”
“It had better be worth it, though,” she added. “Life is so crushingly tough for many people tuning in to watch because of the actions of his party and his government — he might find the public far less forgiving of him than they were of me.”
Meanwhile, Humza Yousaf has said he “couldn’t care less” about Mr Hancock’s TV appearance.
During a visit to Bangholm Medical Centre in Edinburgh, Mr Yousaf said: “I genuinely have so much else on my plate that I just couldn’t care less what he is doing, what he’s eating and what challenges he’s involved in.
“I wish nobody any ill, I have to say, and I dealt with Matt Hancock when I was first in this role, but what Matt Hancock chooses to do is for Matt Hancock.
“I genuinely, without any disrespect, couldn’t care less.”
When asked if he could follow suit down the line, Mr Yousaf simply replied: “No.”
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