Matt Hancock could be stopped from standing as Tory MP in next election

West Suffolk MP had whip removed for I’m A Celebrity … appearance and may not have it restored before 5 December deadline

Matt Hancock could be stopped from standing as a Conservative MP in the next general election if he does not regain the Tory whip soon.

Conservative MPs have until 5 December to tell Conservative party HQ whether they want to stand again.

Unless the whip is restored before then, the former health secretary, who was suspended as a Tory for appearing on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, will remain an independent MP and his West Suffolk constituency association would have to select a new candidate.

According to the Times, Hancock is unlikely to have the whip restored in time for the deadline, which comes a week after finalists on the ITV show are expected to return from Australia.

It reportedly took six months for Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, to have the whip restored after appearing on the programme when she was a more junior MP.

“It seems clear that he’s decided he won’t be the candidate at the next election anyway, so he’s gone off to make some money,” a source told the newspaper.

“That’s fine. But then he should stand down so the party can start selecting someone else. If I was Simon Hart [the chief whip] I’d be asking whether Matt’s actions warrant returning the whip.”

Meanwhile, in his constituency, there is said to be growing opposition to his return.

“We don’t propose to add to our previous statement – however the mood in the constituency is one of increasing disappointment, and we feel very let down,” a West Suffolk Conservative Association spokesperson told the Times.

Ian Houlder, a Conservative councillor in Hancock’s seat, has said he will stand against him if the whip is restored.

A source close to Hancock claimed he definitely plans to remain in politics, adding that he had explained to the chief whip his reasons for appearing on the programme.

Gina Coladangelo, Hancock’s partner, flew to Australia before Friday night’s public vote, which the MP survived.

A spokesperson for Hancock said: “The second reading of Matt’s dyslexia screening and teacher training bill is just days after I’m A Celebrity … finishes.”

They added: “Matt has been working on constituency matters and show producers have agreed that Matt can communicate with his team if there’s an urgent constituency matter while he’s on the show.

“As soon as Matt’s time in camp is up, he will return to Suffolk to hold surgeries where he will catch up with his constituents and discuss matters of concern.”

The West Suffolk Conservative Association and the Conservative party did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

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Miranda Bryant

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