'Just ridiculous': Hancock hit with barrage of criticism over I'm a Celeb appearance

Watch: Matt Hancock loses Tory whip after joining I’m a Celebrity

Matt Hancock has been labelled an "absolute disgrace" after agreeing to appear on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! 2022 while serving as an MP.

The former cabinet minister will be eating insects in the jungle in Australia on the hit reality TV show, which will begin on 6 November, while Parliament is sitting.

Hancock resigned as health secretary last year after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing his aide, Gina Colangelo, in his departmental office, amounting to a breach of his own government's COVID rules.

News of him signing up to I'm a Celeb was announced on Tuesday, and he has already had the whip suspended by the Tory party, effectively meaning he will have to sit as an independent MP for West Suffolk.

Hancock, 44, provoked a barrage of criticism for joining the ITV show's cast, with Lib Dem MP for Tiverton & Honiton, Richard Foord, tweeting: "This is just ridiculous.

Former cabinet minister Matt Hancock speaks to the media at BBC Broadcasting House in London, after appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2022.
An ally of Matt Hancock says he took the 'incredible opportunity' as he 'doesn't expect to serve in government again'. (PA)

"As MPs it's our role to represent our constituents and help them with issues they're facing - not take weeks off to go on reality TV. If Mr Hancock wants to spend his time outside of Parliament, then frankly he should resign."

Green MP for Brighton Pavillion, Caroline Lucas, wrote: "Great to know that Matt Hancock has worked out a way to represent his constituents from the jungle... otherwise I'm assuming he'll be returning his MP's salary?"

Some politicians took the opportunity to take a swipe at Britain's new leader Rishi Sunak and his government, as it faces a series of crises over migration, national security and the economy.

Mike Tindall MBE,, Owen Warner, Olivia Attwood, Charlene White, Boy George, Chantelle Douglas, Sue Cleaver, Chris Moyles, Babatúndé Aléshé and Jill Scott MBE - I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here 2022 (ITV/Lifted Entertainment)
Mike Tindall, Owen Warner, Olivia Attwood, Charlene White, Boy George, Chantelle Douglas, Sue Cleaver, Chris Moyles, Babatúndé Aléshé and Jill Scott have also been confirmed for this year's I'm a Celebrity. (ITV/Lifted Entertainment)

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.”

Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “To be fair to Matt Hancock, I’d sooner eat wallaby anus than be a Tory MP too.”

Read more: Matt Hancock joins the Metaverse with ‘creepy’ avatar of himself

File photo dated 03/10/21 of Matt Hancock after finishing the Virgin Money London Marathon. Former Cabinet minister Matt Hancock has had the Tory whip suspended after it emerged he was entering the jungle for I'm A Celebrity??? Get Me Out Of Here! Issue date: Tuesday November 1, 2022.
Hancock's ally says producers agreed for his constituency aides to contact him over 'urgent' matters while in the jungle. (PA)

Read more: 'I'm a Celebrity' fans react to Matt Hancock rumours

A Downing Street spokesperson 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.”

He said it was "unlikely" that Sunak would be watching this year's season of I'm a Celebrity.

Masked serial election candidate "Count Binface" tweeted: "If Matt Hancock would rather go on I'm A Celebrity than serve his constituents while being paid lots of money to be an MP, he should face an immediate by-election. Against me. RT if you agree."

It wasn't just politicians who were angered by the news, with palliative care doctor and writer Rachel Clarke tweeting: "He [conducted] an affair in his office during an actual pandemic.

"He lied & lied about protecting care homes, providing us with proper PPE & enriching his 'VIP' mates. And he thought he could swan off to TV land while a serving MP. @MattHancock you are an absolute disgrace."

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.

Read more: BBC under fire as Nigel Farage claims 'floods' of Albanians are entering Britain

Rachel Clarke calls Matt Hancock a disgrace
Paliative care doctor Rachel Clarke called Matt Hancock a 'disgrace'. (Twitter/@doctor_oxford)

Read more: Sunak's austerity could be much more damaging than Osborne's - here's how you could be affected

“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.

“My family was ripped apart by Matt Hancock's actions and turning on the TV to see him being paraded around as a joke is sickening."

"If he had any respect for the families like mine, he would be sharing his private emails with the Covid inquiry, not eating bugs on TV.

"Then again, perhaps if those emails came to light no TV station would touch him with a barge pole. ITV should do the decent thing and remove him from the programme."

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union of senior civil servants, said: “Oh to have a job where you can decide for yourself you’re taking a month off, abandon your work and responsibilities, get paid shedloads and face little consequence. I’m sure he’ll be an inspiration to other public servants.”

A political ally of Hancock's said the former health secretary seized an "incredible opportunity" to appear on the show and engage with the "12 million Brits who tune in every single night".

They added that he took the decision as he "doesn't expect to serve in government again", adding that the show's producers agreed to constituency staff communicating with the MP on "urgent" matters while he is in the jungle.

“Matt has told the whips in Parliament and he will use his time in the jungle to promote his dyslexia campaign," the ally said.

“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.”

But it is safe to say not everyone in the area he represents is happy with his decision.

Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association in Hancock's constituency, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis. Quote me. You can quote me that.”