Matt Hancock has been stripped of the Tory whip after signing up to join I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The former health secretary 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.
But chief whip Simon Hart said the situation was so serious he should have the right to sit as a Conservative suspended.
“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,” Hart said.
Hancock’s party colleague, Nadine Dorries, also had the whip temporarily suspended when she agreed to participate in the reality show in 2012.
She was further punished for failing to declare her fee for appearing in the series.
Hancock, who was among the supporters of PM Rishi Sunak, was forced to quit as health secretary in June 2021 after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by conducting an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
He had also reportedly been considering a run to be chair of the Treasury Select Committee, but pulled out of the race on Monday.
The news has been greeted with amusement on both sides of the political divide – with each looking forward to watching Hancock enjoy all of the jungle’s culinary delights.
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, said he was looking forward to seeing Mr Hancock “eating a kangaroo’s penis”.
SNP MP Pete Wishart was also eagerly awaiting Hancock’s first bush tucker trial, though took a different view on his participation on the show.
“It speaks volumes that Matt Hancock would rather be stranded in a remote jungle eating kangaroo testicles than spend a moment longer on the Tory benches at Westminster, as Rishi Sunak’s government lurches from one crisis to another,” he said.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union which represents senior civil servants, said: “Oh to have a job where you can decide for yourself you’re taking a month off, abandon your work and responsibilities, get paid shedloads and face little consequence.
“I’m sure he’ll be an inspiration to other public servants.”
The show will also star Euro 2022 winner Jill Scott, ex-rugby international Mike Tindall and singer Boy George, among others.