You have to hand it to Matt Hancock – you can’t keep a good man down.
Okay, so maybe the ‘good’ bit is open to debate, but you can’t fault the Conservative MP’s determination to keep himself in the news.
What other reason could there be for him to join the cast of ITV show I’m a Celebrity, in which he will inevitably be voted by the public time and time again to take on challenges that include eating kangaroo testicles and putting his head inside a tank filled with snakes and spiders?
Hancock will be able to mop his brow with the reported £350,000 fee he will be paid to appear in the jungle, and he might need that cash given that his political career has hit another bump in the road.
The former health secretary’s TV adventure has already effectively seen him expelled from the Conservative party, with the chief whip Simon Hart taking away Hancock’s parliamentary privileges. “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.”
There is no legal requirement for Hart to hand it back either, with Hancock sitting as an independent MP until reinstated by the Tories.
Any hope of that happening may hinge on the 44-year-old not making a complete plonker of himself in the jungle. At least campmates such as Chris Moyles, Olivia Attwood and Mike Tindall are not known for their tough questioning style….
The Worst Mistakes of Matt Hancock’s Career
Only time will tell if joining the cast of I’m a Celebrity turns out to be a disaster or a masterstroke from Matt Hancock.
He will certainly be one of the more interesting campmates to ever feature on the show, and even in the fluffy realm of ITV reality television he might come in for some awkward questions.
Hancock, you might recall, was the health secretary at the time that the Covid pandemic broke out, and he was embroiled in the ‘contracts for mates’ scandal that saw suppliers with no track record – including a former pub landlord – handed deals to supply essential PPE equipment to the NHS in a catalogue of governmental nepotism.
To make matters worse, former Tory Party PR guru Dominic Cummins claimed that ‘thousands’ of people died unnecessarily during the early days of the pandemic due to the decisions taken by Hancock and his fellow MPs.
And then, a handful of months later, Hancock broke the social distancing rules that he had helped to implement when he was filmed in a romantic clutch with aide Gina Coladangelo, with whom he was enjoying an extra-marital affair.
Having resigned from his position as health secretary, Hancock remains the MP for West Suffolk – travelling across the world to publicly humiliate himself for a six-figure sum, while his constituents suffer the worst cost of living crisis in recent memory, might strike some as an ill-thought out decision.
‘Some may think I’ve lost my marbles,’ Hancock said when asked why he was heading into the jungle. Most voters thought he’d misplaced them a long time ago….
I’m a Celebrity Betting Odds
Although he might enjoy an extension of his 15 minutes of fame, the betting odds for I’m a Celebrity suggest that Hancock’s half hour of fame is about the best he can hope for.
He’s been made the 20/1 outsider to win the show, with the odds suggesting he could be the fourth celebrity to be voted off behind Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver, Loose Women panellist Charlene White and Place in the Sun host Scarlette Douglas.
At the other end of the market, there’s a three-way battle for favouritism between former rugby ace turned Royal Family guy Mike Tindall, Love Island star Olivia Attwood and England Lionesses heroine Jill Scott.
Pop sensation Boy George and former Radio 1 host Chris Moyles are also in the mix, as are stand-up comedian Babatunde Aleshe and former Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner.
Given the lack of journalistic heavyweights, Hancock might get away with being questioned too harshly for his annus horribilis which began in 2020, continued into 2021 and is still, evidently, his guiding force in 2022 as well.
Knowing that Nadine Dorries, Kezia Dugdale and even Lembit Opik were voted off I’m a Celeb in the first two rounds, be sure to catch Hancock in the jungle while you can – if you can bear his delusional ‘cool dad’ stereotype schtick, that is.