By Sam Russell, PA
A Tory in Matt Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency said he is looking forward to seeing the former UK health secretary “eating a kangaroo’s penis” on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Mr Hancock was a surprise extra name added to the list of contenders, and allies said he would use his appearance to promote his work on dyslexia.
Andy Drummond, who is chairman of Newmarket Conservatives and deputy chairman (political) of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis.
“Quote me. You can quote me that.”
Mr Hancock has been stripped of the Tory whip after signing up for the ITV show, and his decision to take part has prompted a mixed reaction among local politicians.
Ian Houlder, a West Suffolk Conservative councillor, said Mr Hancock has “no shame”.
He said he thought Mr Hancock may later go back “on bended knee” to try to get the whip restored.
Mr Houlder, who represents Barrow ward, continued: “Everybody knows what he did during the Covid pandemic and he seems to want to rehabilitate himself all the time in the public eye.
“He’s got a skin as thick as a rhinoceros, quite frankly.”
An ally of Mr Hancock said producers of the show have agreed that he can communicate with constituency staff if there is an urgent matter in West Suffolk.
Asked if it was fair on Mr Hancock’s constituents for their MP to appear on I’m A Celebrity, Mr Houlder said: “Well, I don’t think he represents them anyway.
“I mean he’s got one of the safest seats in the country, or had, and I think it builds a certain amount of arrogance.
“He’s very blinkered.”
Andrew Smith, a West Suffolk Tory councillor, said: “I can see why he might want to do it (appear on I’m A Celebrity), given what’s happened to him and his personal life and his career.”
Mr Hancock was forced to quit as British health secretary in June 2021 after breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by conducting an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
Mr Smith continued: “If I was him I wouldn’t have done it, to be perfectly truthful, but I’m not him.
“It’s not a show I would watch or indeed I would personally do, I don’t like eating things that I don’t know where they’ve come from, if you get my drift.”
Mr Hancock 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 the UK parliament.
West Suffolk Conservative councillor Carol Bull said she hopes that appearing on I’m A Celebrity… will be the “right decision” for Mr Hancock.
“He’s made the decision, presumably he’s thought about it carefully and hopefully it will be, for him, the right decision,” she said.
Ms Bull, who represents Barningham ward, added: “At the end of the day, it depends how he does and how he’s perceived.
“There will be some who think it’s really good and others who don’t.”