I'm A Celebrity: Matt Hancock says the health secretary doesn't need to be an expert

Matt Hancock discussed cabinet reshuffles on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (ITV/Shutterstock)
Matt Hancock discussed cabinet reshuffles on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (ITV/Shutterstock)

Matt Hancock has said the government health secretary does not need to be an expert on health.

The MP — who served as health secretary during the COVID-19 pandemic — said on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! that government ministers rely on advisors for expert knowledge of their field.

Hancock told radio DJ Chris Moyles: “The job of the minister is not to be the subject matter expert. Of course, you need to get to grips with the subject matter, but that is only half the job. There’s a load of transferable skills — handling parliament, communicating with the public, taking decisions effectively — and then you have the subject matter experts who advise you on it all.”

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Moyles said: “If I was head of culture and sport and digital and then got the phone call saying, ‘We want you to be in charge of the health of the nations’ I’d be like, ‘I can’t do that… I don’t know anything about that.' I know a few doctors, but I think I’d need a bigger team of advisors.”

Hancock replied: “But you do and that’s what you have. Nobody is a specialist in the whole health service, literally nobody. Even the Chief Executive of the Health Service.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street with aide Gina Coladangelo after the daily press briefing on May 01, 2020 in London, England. Mr Hancock announced that the government's pledge to conduct 100,000 Covid-19 tests per day had been successful. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to Downing Street this week after recovering from Covid-19, said the country needed to continue its lockdown measures to avoid a second spike in infections. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Matt Hancock was forced to resign from government after his affair with advisor Gina Colangelo was exposed. (Getty Images)

The politician was forced to resign from government after his affair with advisor Gina Colangelo was exposed.

The former government minister in Boris Johnson's cabinet also described a government reshuffle as a literal shuffle, with names swapped in and out of positions responsible for running the country's key services.

He said: “I’ll tell you exactly what happens. It’s reshuffle day and the first thing the Prime Minister does is call the people who he or she is going to fire and invites them into the office in the House of Commons. Because that way the cameras can’t see them coming and going. Face-to-face. These are very sensitive conversations.

"Then they go into Downing Street and they call people in in order of seniority. They have a whiteboard with all of the cabinet positions on it and they go from senior down. Sometimes people say, ‘No, I don’t want to be defence secretary, I’d take transport’ and it is literally a reshuffle - as in they’re moving names across this whiteboard.”

Hancock has made it to the final six in the ITV jungle reality show, along with Moyles, rugby player Mike Tindall, footballer Jill Scott, Hollyoaks star Owen Warner and comedians Seann Walsh.

The 44-year-old father-of-three is still an elected MP for West Suffolk, meaning he is being paid an annual salary to serve his constituents.

Matt Hancock has joined the jungle show. (ITV)
Matt Hancock has joined the jungle show. (ITV)

The basic annual salary of a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons is £84,144.

He said his constituents are "still my first priority" and revealed he has agreed with producers that he can be reached at any point during filming if any "urgent constituency matter" arises.

Hancock has vowed to declare his I'm A Celebrity salary to Parliament and donate it to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and causes supporting dyslexia.

As a result of his signing up to the show his parliamentary whip has been suspended, meaning he is not a member of the Conservative Party.

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Parliamentary watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) has ruled his participation in I'm A Celebrity is a breach of the government's business appointment rules. But they have advised that no further action be taken.

Watch: Matt Hancock broke government rules by signing up for I'm A Celebrity