Matt Hancock loses Tory whip after reportedly signing up for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
Matt Hancock has had the Tory whip suspended with immediate effect after reportedly signing up for ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
This means that the former health secretary and West Suffolk MP is effectively expelled from his party and must sit as an independent until, or if, the whip is restored.
The Sun reported that Mr Hancock will halt representing his constituents to appear on the popular ITV show, which features celebrities performing gruelling tasks in the Australian jungle.
An ally of Mr Hancock said the MP would use the reality TV show to promote his campaign on dyslexia.
“Matt doesn’t expect to serve in government again, so it’s an incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12 million Brits who tune in every single night," they said.
But Conservative 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.”
Following the whip's statement, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak said the prime minister thinks MPs should be “working hard for their constituents”.
“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,” they said.
Mr Hancock will be a surprise addition to the show, which begins on November 6 and will feature the likes of Euro 2022 winner Jill Scott, ex-rugby star Mike Tindall and singer Boy George.
When Tory colleague Nadine Dorries went on I'm a Celebrity in 2012, she also had the whip suspended.
Reacting to the news Matt Hancock had joined the show, Ms Dorries tweeted: "And least he doesn’t have to worry about George Osborne in No10 waiting to remove his whip when he gets back!"
Mr Hancock was forced to quit as health secretary last year after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by conducting an affair in his office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
He also apologised after the High Court ruled government policies on discharging patients from hospital into care homes at the onset of the pandemic were "unlawful".
On Tuesday, Lobby Akinnola, from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, accused Mr Hancock of "trying to cash in on his terrible legacy".
“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."
Mr Hancock was among supporters of Rishi 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 reportedly been considering a run to be chair of the Treasury Select Committee, but pulled out of the race on Monday.
The former home secretary will release Pandemic Diaries, a book about "Britain's battle to turn the tide against Covid-19", in December.
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