Matt Hancock has had the Tory whip suspended with immediate effect after he signed up for TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Chief Whip Simon Hart said.
Mr 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.”
While a political ally of the former health secretary said Mr Hancock has seized an “incredible opportunity” to appear on the show, because he “doesn’t expect to serve in Government again”.
They said the show’s producers have agreed with Mr Hancock, the MP for West Suffolk, that his constituents can communicate with him on “urgent” matters while he is in the jungle.
Matt Hancock Kirsty Wigglesworth
“I’m A Celeb is the most watched show on TV,” they said.
“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.
“Matt has told the whips in Parliament and he will use his time in the jungle to promote his dyslexia campaign.
“Matt has an excellent team working with him in West Suffolk, but producers have agreed that he can communicate with them if there’s an urgent constituency matter.”
The “political ally” said the former health secretary’s appearance will be an opportunity to show the “human side” of MPs.
They said the West Suffolk MP will make a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk, and declare the amount he receives from the show to Parliament.
A political ally of the former health secretary said Mr Hancock has seized an “incredible opportunity” to appear on the show Aaron Chown
“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,” they added
“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.
“Matt will be making a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk, and he will, of course, declare the amount he receives from the show to Parliament to ensure complete transparency, as normal.”
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman (political) of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said he was looking forward to seeing Mr Hancock “eating a kangaroo’s penis”.
Mr Drummond, who is also chairman of Newmarket Conservatives, in Mr Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis.