I'm a Celebrity: 'Don't miss your chance to eat a bull's testicle', Stanley Johnson tells Hancock

'Go for it. Frankly it's just food, it’s calories and it's totally edible'

Stanley Johnson has told Matt Hancock he must not miss his chance to eat a bull's testicle when he apparently enters the I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! jungle this month.

The former contestant offered his advice to the disgraced minister turned budding reality TV star, amid widespread speculation he will be joining the show's cast.

The ex-health secretary - who became a household name during the coronavirus pandemic - was a surprise addition to this year's list of contenders, as an ally admitted Mr Hancock does not expect to return to government after resigning over a social distancing breach in which he conducted an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.

His apparent decision to join the ITV programme has sparked anger, with campaigners for families bereaved in the Covid pandemic accusing him of trying to “cash in on his terrible legacy”.

But Stanley Johnson, the father of former prime minister Boris Johnson, believes the public will "respond well" to Mr Hancock.

Mr Johnson, who competed in the show's 17th series in 2017 and lasted 18 days in the Australian jungle, said the West Suffolk MP has "already redeemed himself" following the social distancing controversy.

Issuing a piece of advice to the jungle's latest rumoured political contestant, Mr Johnson said: "Get your hand up quick - Ant or Dec, I was never able to distinguish between them - they come in and… you’ve got to get your hand up because if you don’t, you miss the chance to eat a bull’s testicle for example."

"Go for it, frankly it's just food, it’s calories and its totally edible," he added.

Matt Hancock has sparked backlash for choosing to compete in the series. Credit: PA

A Tory in Mr Hancock's constituency - deputy chairman (political) of West Suffolk Conservative Association Andy Drummond - earlier said he is looking forward to seeing the former health secretary “eating a kangaroo’s penis” on the TV programme.

An ally of the MP said producers of the show have agreed that he can communicate with constituency staff if there is an urgent matter in West Suffolk.

But he's had the Conservative whip suspended regardless, with Tory Chief Whip Simon Hart saying he'd spoken to Mr Hancock and decided it is a "matter serious enough to warrant suspension".

Mr Johnson agreed, saying he "probably deserved to have the whip suspended" but insisted the Conservative MP will have lots of opportunities to talk about issues important to him while being watched by millions.

Speaking of an issue of concern to him, Mr Johnson said one reason he is "pleased" Mr Hancock could be entering the jungle is because he won't be able to vote with the government on repealing a swathe of EU environmental laws.

Mr Johnson said he 'was surprised and a little bit pleased' that Mr Hancock is entering the jungle

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes MPs should be “working hard for their constituents,” Downing Street said.

Asked about Mr Hancock’s apparent imminent appearance on I’m A Celebrity, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM believes that at a challenging time for the country MPs should be working hard for their constituents, whether that is in the House or in their constituency.”

The spokesman said it was “unlikely” Mr Sunak would be watching the programme.

Asked where his son Boris had been following his departure from 10 Downing Street, given he's been absent from Parliament for weeks, Mr Johnson said he'd "absolutely" seen the former prime minister and hoped he would attend the COP27 climate summit.

Former PM Johnson later revealed he would be attending the event, telling Sky News he was "invited by the Egyptians so I’m very happy to go".

Prime Minister Sunak has previously said he would not attend as he'll be dealing with domestic issues, including preparation for an autumn budget, but Number 10 has suggested he could change his mind if sufficient progress is made.

Mr Hancock was among supporters of Mr Sunak who welcomed the new leader to Conservative headquarters last week but was overlooked for a ministerial job under the new prime minister.

He had also reportedly been considering a run to be chair of the Treasury Select Committee but pulled out of the race on Monday.

An ally of Mr Hancock said: “There are many ways to do the job of being an MP.

“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?

“Politicians like Matt must go to where the people are – particularly those who are politically disengaged.

“Matt’s of the view that we must embrace popular culture. 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.”

Mr Hancock is the latest politician to enter the appear on the show, following former Tory MP Edwina Currie, current Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, ex-Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik and Kezia Dugdale, who was previously the leader of Scottish Labour.

By joining that list he's drew anger from coronavirus campaigners and fellow politicians.

Lobby Akinnola, from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said: “Matt Hancock isn’t a ‘celebrity’, he’s the former health secretary who oversaw the UK having one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19 whilst breaking his own lockdown rules.

“The fact that he is trying to cash in on his terrible legacy, rather than showing some humility or seeking to reflect on the appalling consequences of his time in government, says it all about the sort of person he is.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “It speaks volumes that Matt Hancock would rather be stranded in a remote jungle eating kangaroo testicles than spend a moment longer on the Tory benches at Westminster, as Rishi Sunak’s government lurches from one crisis to another.”

The House of Commons is in recess from November 10-14, but celebrities could spend up to three weeks in the jungle – meaning Mr Hancock would miss significant Commons business, including the Autumn Statement on November 17 if he remains in the contest.

He will make a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and he will also be required to declare the amount he receives from the show to Parliament.

In the jungle Mr Hancock will be joining pop star Boy George, Coronation Street’s Sue Cleaver, Hollyoaks’ Owen Warner, TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas, former England rugby player Mike Tindall, Loose Women star Charlene White, radio presenter Chris Moyles, reality TV star Olivia Attwood, former footballer Jill Scott and comedian Babatunde Aleshe.

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