Hancock snubbing voters with his jungle jaunt, says Ann Widdecombe

Matt Hancock to face same fate as Galloway says Widdecombe

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Matt Hancock is turning his back on his constituents with his decision to commit four weeks to ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, Ann Widdecombe has said. The former Tory minister is no stranger to reality television herself having taken part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2010.

However, she emphasised her participation, during which she was partnered with Anton Du Beke, came after she stood down as the MP for Maidstone in Kent.

Mr Hancock, the former health secretary, has had the Conservative whip suspended after it was confirmed he would be a contestant in the show hosted by Anttony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.

Yesterday he insisted he “hadn’t lost my marbles” and was rather trying to connect with young people – but Ms Widdecombe suggested he could have a few complaints about his suspension.

She told Express.co.uk: “If he was doing this in recess, it would be different.

“But anything up to four weeks out of Parliamentary session is not acceptable.

“Who looks after his constituents if there is an emergency? The answer is nobody.”

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Asked about the wisdom of appearing on a program featuring so-called Bush Tucker Trials, whereby participants endure such ordeals as being covered with live insects, as well as being required to eat kangaroo penises, Ms Widdecombe said: “They know what they are getting themselves into with this.

“But it’s not a programme which I would go on myself.”

Miss Widdecombe became something of a cult figure during her time on Strictly, performing a total of nine routines, including a rhumba to the theme tune of the 1997 Oscar-winning film Titanic.

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Defending his decision in an article in The Sun today, West Suffolk MP Mr Hancock said: “I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to.”

He insisted he wanted to use the “incredible platform” to raise awareness of dyslexia and said it “wasn’t the cheque” which made him decide to sign up for the show.

He added that he had turned down the programme “twice this summer” but had a “change of heart” after workers asked a third time last week.

He could be reached on “any urgent constituency matters”, he stressed.

Nevertheless, Chief Whip Simon Hart, who described the situation as “serious”, yesterday confirmed his decision to suspend the whip.

Speaking to Sky News, Transport Secretary Mr Harper said: “The Chief Whip has made the position clear, which is he’s made a decision that going on I’m A Celebrity is not compatible with doing your job properly as a Member of Parliament.”

Mr Hancock resigned as health secretary after leaked video footage showed him embracing adviser Gina Coladangelo, with whom he was engaged in an extra-marital affair, in breach of Covid social distancing regulations in June of last year. He subsequently left his wife, Martha Millar, for Ms Coladangelo.

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