Matt Hancock has said there was “no excuse” for the actions that led to his resignation as health secretary, but insisted “I fell in love”.
The Tory MP was forced to quit in June 2021 after breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
The West Suffolk MP joined the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! on Wednesday, entering the camp with comedian Seann Walsh after facing much criticism over his decision from the public and fellow politicians.
Asked about his resignation by his campmates on Thursday’s episode, Hancock, 44, said he had resigned because he understood how people felt about him, after CCTV footage proving the relationship was leaked.
TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas told him as they did chores around the camp: “I want to say this morning as I don’t like to leave things in…
“A lot of things that happened with you during the times, which does make it difficult because people are angry and upset – emotions are running high.
“We are not going to ever exclude anyone. We want to make sure that everyone’s a family, but if it does feel tough for the first few days, I’m sure you understand why.”
Hancock replied: “That’s very good of you to say that.”
Douglas continued: “It was hard. A lot of people had difficult times.
“And then to see that people that had kind of set the rules had then broken them, I think was a big slap in the face for everyone.”
Hancock replied: “Look, I know how people felt. That’s why I resigned, right? I know how people felt and so good on you for saying that, thank you.”
Later in the Bush Telegraph, he added: “Scarlette was very open and also very thoughtful and that’s really what it’s all about.
“Being able to talk about things, whether they’re things you’re proud of, or things you’re not proud of.”
Later, speaking to comedian Babatunde Aleshe, Hancock discussed how his life had changed after his affair became public.
“It was really tough,” he said.
“I messed up and I fessed up. I resigned and it’s no excuse but I fell in love, right? That also had a lot of other consequences obviously.”
Referring to the CCTV footage, Aleshe responded, You didn’t just ‘fell in love’ you were grabbing booty bruv”, to which Hancock responded “oh give over”.
Asked whether he was still with Ms Coladangelo, he replied: “With Gina? Yeah very much so, yeah, totally.
“That’ll be the best thing about being kicked out, seeing her on the bridge.”
The episode also saw Hancock take part in the latest Bushtucker Trial, Tentacles of Terror, in which he was trapped inside a octopus-shaped cage full of underwater critters.
The MP was tasked with collecting 11 numbered stars in order as the structure was lowered into the water, managing to do so and winning full rations for the camp.
As he began his trial, co-host Ant McPartlin asked him: “You must have met a few snakes in your time in Westminster.”
As Hancock made his way back to the camp, comedian Walsh and soap star Sue Cleaver discussed his decision to enter the Australian jungle.
Defending him, Walsh said: “That man will have a very different account of what he did to what we all think happened and there will be reasons.
“I’m not justifying anything that that guy did or certainly what that government… the decisions they’ve made, but f*** being in his job when that was going on.”
Cleaver replied: “I totally, totally agree with you, but the choice after everything that happened and the impact on everybody at home and families and people in homes to make a choice to come into I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! does not sit well with me.
“He’s got constituents back at home, he’s a serving member of Parliament.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said on Thursday that Hancock should “voluntarily leave” the I’m A Celebrity jungle and return to Parliament.
Taking questions on BBC Radio Humberside, Sir Keir said his decision to enter the show was “wrong”.
“He should get back to Westminster, he should get back to Parliament and do his job,” he said.
Elsewhere, Walsh also spoke about being pictured in October 2018 kissing his Strictly Come Dancing partner Katya Jones, while he was in a relationship and she was married to Neil Jones, also a dancer on the show.
The 36-year-old comedian said he wants the show to be a “positive experience” and is still “very sorry” for his behaviour while he was in a relationship with actress Rebecca Humphries.
Mike Tindall also revealed more details about his royal wife Zara Phillips giving birth on the bathroom floor to their third child in March 2021.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues on ITV on Friday at 9pm.