Matt Hancock has acknowledged there was “no excuse” for the actions that led to his resignation as health secretary after being photographed kissing a colleague during the pandemic, but insisted he “fell in love”.
The Conservative MP for West Suffolk was asked by his campmates about his resignation after entering the Australian jungle in the reality show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
Hancock, 44, was forced to quit his cabinet role in June 2021 after he was caught on CCTV having an affair with aide Gina Coladangelo in his ministerial office, breaking coronavirus social distancing rules.
Speaking to comedian Babatunde Aleshe, he discussed how his life had changed after his affair became public.
“It was really tough.
“I messed up and I fessed up. I resigned and it’s no excuse but I fell in love, right?” he said.
“That also had a lot of other consequences obviously.”
Asked whether he was still with 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.”
Hancock took part in a Bushtucker trial called tentacles of terror, in which he was trapped inside an octopus-shaped cage full of underwater critters.
The MP successfully collected 11 numbered stars in order as the structure was lowered into the water, which resulted in him winning full rations for the camp.
The public voted for Hancock, along with singer-songwriter Boy George, to take on the first eating challenge of the series on Friday. The show’s hosts, Declan Donnelly and Ant McPartlin, said the pair would be eating at La Cucaracha Café (Cockroach cafe).
Hancock’s decision to appear in the show has been criticised by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who said he was “very disappointed” in the former health secretary. It resulted in Hancock losing the Tory whip.
The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said Hancock should “voluntarily leave” the I’m A Celebrity jungle and return to parliament.
Taking questions on BBC Radio Humberside, Starmer said his decision to enter the show was “wrong”.
Hancock appeared to be getting on well with his fellow campmates, though some contestants commented on the events that led to his resignation.
TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas told him: “A lot of things that happened with you during the time, 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 added: “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.”