MATT Hancock is set to return to angry colleagues, constituents and questions about his political future after finishing third in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity.
The MP for West Suffolk surpassed expectations on the reality show by reaching the final, which was won by footballer Jill Scott.
According to a report in The Observer, the former health secretary’s PR team played a major role in keeping him on the show for so long as well as support from young TikTok users.
The newspaper reports that Hancock’s team lobbied for votes on the app, encouraging viewers to vote for him repeatedly and laying out step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
One video, which is addressed to “team Matt” said their mission was to “keep Matt in the jungle”.
It walked people through how to download the app and vote “five times”. One user wrote: “Always use all my votes to keep Matt in!”
The Prime Minister said he was “very disappointed” in his colleague’s decision to leave behind his constituents to appear on a reality show taking place 10,000 miles away.
Videos on TikTok were promoted using the #matthancockfanclub hashtag. However, PR expert Mark Borkowski’s team found that the majority of comments and articles on social media about Hancock, 44, were still negative, The Observer reports.
He told the newspaper: “I don’t think he has a political career after it. I think he’ll be ridiculed.
“He’s like a pantomime villain. I can see him doing odd advertising campaigns.”
With the Conservative whip removed, there are questions over whether or not the MP will be able to run again for Parliament.
During his interview on the show with presenters Ant and Dec, Hancock said: “I know that it was controversial me coming here, I know some people said people in your position shouldn’t put themselves in embarrassing situations.
“But we’re all human and we all put ourselves in it. We are normal people.”
After leaving the interview, he hugged partner Gina Coladangelo, the former aide with whom he had the affair which forced his resignation as health secretary.
Tory MPs have until December 5 to decide whether they want to stand again or not with one source telling the PA news agency that “Matt has no intention of standing down”.
However, Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I don’t think serving members of Parliament should be taking place in reality television programmes.
“However well they do on them I still think they should be doing the job for which they are paid a good salary which is representing their constituents.”
Campaigners from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group have also criticised his appearance, for a fee of reportedly as much as £400,000.
Hancock’s team has said he will make a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and he will be required to declare the amount he receives from the show to Parliament.