A large number of politicians in parliament are voting for Matt Hancock to perform “grim” tasks on I’m A Celebrity, a senior minister has suggested.
After the former Conservative health secretary was pelted with sludge and insects on his first night in the Australian jungle, a former cabinet colleague said even technophobic peers back home in Britain were downloading an app used to vote contestants into performing gruesome “bushtucker trials”.
Immediately after Hancock joined the show on Wednesday, the public voted for the MP to face another grisly challenge the following day – named the “tentacles of terror”.
Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary, said that “quite a lot of people” in the Commons and Lords were taking to downloading the app, and added with a grin: “I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.”
Though he stressed he had not watched the show, Heaton-Harris said he was familiar with the format, adding: “It looks grim.”
There are “lots of peers I know who’ve never been au fait with technology, who are downloading a certain app now so they can vote in something”, he told LBC radio.
MPs are doing the same, Heaton-Harris also told Sky News – though he stressed he had not yet downloaded the app himself.
As he listened to clips of Hancock singing to his fellow campmates, Heaton-Harris quipped: “That deserves a vote.”
The former chief whip did not hide his disdain for Hancock flying out to Australia and skipping days when the Commons is sitting, saying he “should be here with us, voting and debating in parliament”.
Despite Hancock’s insistence that he had joined the jungle to show a more human side to politicians, Heaton-Harris stressed: “Matt should be representing his constituents. You can prove you’re human by being a good constituency MP.”
Hancock had the Tory whip suspended when it was revealed he would be joining the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! lineup.
While his arrival in the camp upset some fellow contestants who suggested he should be back home working, Hancock said everyone seemed “really nice” – although he added it was “on the worry list” that he might have been badly received.
“There’s so few ways in which politicians can show that we’re human beings, so I just thought it would be good to do that – and I’ve got a sense of adventure,” he confided in the journalist and fellow campmate Charlene White.
He said “of course I get that” when it was suggested there might be criticism for his decision, but that given “we’ve now got, sort of, stability” with Rishi Sunak, he felt confident joining the jungle.