After finishing third in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, former health secretary Matt Hancock will return to Westminster to confront outraged colleagues, constituents, and doubts about his political future.
The West Suffolk MP exceeded many people’s expectations by reaching the final, however fell short of the winner, Euro 2022 champion Jill Scott, and Hollyoaks star Owen Warner in a popular vote on Sunday night.
During his 18-day stay in the Australian rainforest, he was suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party and chastised by colleagues such as Rishi Sunak.
The Prime Minister called his colleague’s choice to leave his people behind to participate on the reality programme more than 10,000 miles abroad extremely disappointing.
Campaigners from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group have also criticised his involvement, which was apparently paid for in the region of £400,000.
With the Conservative whip withdrawn, it is unclear whether the incumbent Independent MP will be allowed to compete for re-election.
Tory MPs have until December 5 to decide whether to run again, after which the party may choose a new candidate for his safe seat.
“Matt has no intention of standing down,” an ally of Mr Hancock told the PA news agency.
However, Mr Hancock’s choice to join the jungle while Parliament is in session has humiliated and infuriated several Conservative colleagues.
On Sunday, Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I don’t think serving members of Parliament should be taking place in reality television programmes.
Former Cabinet member Theresa Villiers, on the other hand, praised Mr Hancock, saying the “great human being” had shown “incredible resilience and bravery.”
Mr Hancock is due to meet with his constituents when he returns, as part of his pledge to hold surgeries with them.