Matt Hancock reveals why he's going on 'I'm A Celebrity' after backlash

Matt Hancock MP pictured giving media interviews on College Green, Westminster, after prime minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
Matt Hancock has defended his decision to take part in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (PA)

Matt Hancock has defended taking part in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! while serving as an MP, claiming it is a great way to "engage with voters".

The former Health Secretary - who was forced to resign from government after his affair with advisor Gina Colangelo was exposed - revealed he turned down an offer from ITV to take part in the reality show twice, before making a last minute U-turn last week.

Hancock, who has arrived in Australia, told The Sun newspaper: "The truth is, I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I was elected by the people, and it’s important to engage with voters, especially ­younger voters, no matter where they are, and show the human side of politicians."

Read more: Full list of 'I'm a Celebrity' 2022 contestants

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.

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.

Matt Hancock (R) looks on during the arrival of Rishi Sunak (C) at Conservative Party Headquarters on 24, October in London, England. Rishi Sunak was appointed as Conservative leader and the UK's next Prime Minister after he was the only candidate to garner 100-plus votes from Conservative MPs in the contest for the top job. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Matt Hancock (R) is not part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's (C) Cabinet. (Getty Images)

Hancock also promised he will hold a surgery with his constituents as soon as he returns from the camp.

He said: "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."

The politician said he has discussed his appearance on the jungle reality show with the part whips "in the same way any MP would when going on a foreign visit".

Watch: Matt Hancock stripped of Tory whip for entering I’m A Celebrity

His parliamentary whip has been suspended while he is taking part in the show, meaning he is not a member of the Conservative Party.

Hancock said he does not "expect to serve Government again" after being snubbed by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his latest Cabinet.

He said: "As a backbench MP, I have the freedom and time to champion causes I believe in and care about - including dyslexia."

LONDON, ENGLAND  - MAY 01: 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 with government aide Gina Colangelo in 2020. (Getty Images)

The former government minister - who was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 18 - is promoting his Dyslexia Screening and Teacher Training Bill to ensure no child leaves Primary education without being diagnosed with the learning difficulty which affects reading.

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

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

Hancock is publishing a book in December entitled the Pandemic Diaries: The Inside Story of Britain's Battle Against COVID. Proceeds from sales will be donated to NHS charities and causes supporting dyslexia.

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

Among the other stars taking part this year are singer Boy George, former England rugby player and minor Royal Mike Tindall, who is married to the late Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips.

Read more: I'm A Celebrity 2022: All the confirmed contestants so far

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! 2022 begins on Sunday 6 November and viewers can already vote for which celebrities they think should start out as Jungle VIPs by downloading the official app.