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He's a politician, get him out of there! U.K. scorns ex-minister's reality TV gig.

Britain's former health minister Matt Hancock said he has not "lost his marbles" after he announced he would appear on this year's edition of "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"
Matt Hancock.Justin Tallis / AFP - Getty Images file

LONDON — After months of chaos and scandal, Britons facing a winter of economic pain have at least been able to take solace in seeing the country’s political leaders served the occasional slice of humble pie.

Now, they may be able to watch one eat kangaroo testicles, instead.

Matt Hancock, who resigned as a government minister after video emerged of him breaking his own Covid lockdown rules to kiss and embrace an aide, is set to appear on a reality TV show set in the Australian jungle called “I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!”

The annual show features a group of more-or-less famous celebrity contestants — often former soccer players, comedians and pop stars — who undergo challenges involving spiders, rats and kangaroo body parts before the public votes them out one by one.

Hancock, 44, quit as health minister last year but has remained a lawmaker through the tumult that saw first prime ministers Boris Johnson and then, swiftly, Liz Truss forced from office.

Now, he'll be sharing the limelight with the likes of singer Boy George and former rugby union player Mike Tindall, whose wife, Zara, is the daughter of Princess Anne. The first episode will be broadcast Sunday.

'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!' TV show, Contestants, Series 22, Australia - 31 Oct 2022
Among the British household stars joining Hancock will be veteran singer Boy George, center. ITV / Shutterstock

After the news broke Tuesday that he would be participating in the show, Hancock was swiftly suspended from the ruling Conservative Party and subjected to a mix of public anger and ridicule.

In West Suffolk, the area in East England that Hancock represents, the local Conservative Party association said it was “disappointed" by his bid for prime-time TV stardom.

"We believe that this is a serious error of judgement when he is a paid, elected Member of Parliament,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

A group that campaigns for relatives of people who died during the coronavirus pandemic was similarly unimpressed.

“Matt Hancock isn’t a ‘celebrity’, he’s the former health secretary who oversaw the UK having one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19 whilst breaking his own lockdown rules,” COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK tweeted Tuesday.

The United Kingdom has recorded almost 178,000 coronavirus deaths.

And there was a rebuke from the country's latest prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

"The PM believes that at a challenging time for the country, MPs should be working hard for their constituents, whether that’s in the House or, indeed, in their constituencies,” a spokesman for Sunak told journalists at a briefing Tuesday at No. 10 Downing St.

But Hancock defended his decision to appear on the show, insisting he had not "lost his marbles or had one too many drinks."

“While there will undoubtedly be those who think I shouldn’t go, I think it’s a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics, even if they care very much about how our country’s run,” he wrote in a column in The Sun, a tabloid.

“It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are — not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster,” he added.

Hancock will not be the first lawmaker to appear on "I'm a Celebrity...Get me out of Here!"

In 2012, Nadine Dorries was a contestant on the show and was filmed eating camel's toe and ostrich anus. She was also suspended from the Conservative Party but was later readmitted and served as a minister in Johnson's government.

'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' TV Programme, Australia - 12 Nov 2012
Nadine Dorries appeared on the show in 2012. ITV / Shutterstock

Including Hancock in the reality show could not only damage his reputation, but also further affect how the public views politicians, said John Street, a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia in England.

"The political risk is obviously the kind of demeaning of politics and politicians in which they’re seen merely as entertainers or just extensions of popular culture, which itself is not deemed to be sufficiently important to require our attention," he said.

But Street also said he could see how Hancock’s appearing on the program could help him with voters.

"There is some vague credibility to the argument that if you go on a show that millions of people watch that you can reach out in a way and demonstrate, to use the horrible word, relatability of the politician to the ordinary person."

Hancock will make a donation to St. Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk, according to the Press Association, and he will also be required to declare the amount he receives from the show to Parliament.

Hancock's office did not respond to a request for comment.