While Matt Hancock’s decision to sign up for I’m A Celebrity has been widely condemned, including by Covid-19 charities, the politician has at least one fan.
The disgraced former health secretary, who was forced to resign after breaking his own social distancing guidelines, was a surprise late addition to the jungle, camping alongside the likes of Mike Tindall, Boy George and Chris Moyles.
But Stanley Johnson, father of hapless ex-prime minister Boris, who also quit after a string of pandemic scandals, has defended Hancock and his venture Down Under.
The 82-year-old knows a thing or two himself about the ITV juggernaut series, having appeared as a contestant in I’m A Celeb in 2017, where he became the fifth person to be booted out and famously befriended Made In Chelsea’s Georgia Toffolo.
Despite the public backlash, Stanley is convinced Hancock will ultimately be crowned King of the Jungle, saying: ‘He has outclassed all the others’.
Among the fierce criticism that Hancock has faced is that, as a sitting MP, he has abandoned his constituents during a cost-of-living crisis, with the Tory party deciding to suspend him for taking part in the show.
Speaking about the controversy, Stanley told the MailOnline: ‘Let me tell you where I’m coming from on this one. I’ve known Hancock for quite a long time and I’ve been amazingly impressed by his ability to concentrate and in this case his ability to concentrate on things which actually were good for his constituents.
‘You can be a good constituency MP and do good things for your constituents without necessarily being on the spot all the time.
‘Hancock is in a sense a brilliant man and he’s been – traduced is not quite the right word, but to say ”Oh, he’s not there therefore he’s not working for his constituency” is a mistake’.
In Tuesday’s instalment of I’m A Celeb, Hancock spoke about the UK’s turbulent landscape, telling campmates he thinks Liz Truss was ‘in a way unlucky’ but declared her political career ‘over’.
The candid admissions kicked off when the contestants started a discussion about being oblivious to the news in the UK.
Presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas said: ‘I wonder if Rishi’s still in power’, to which Mr Hancock replied: ‘Yeah, he will be’.
After being asked ‘what went wrong’ with Ms Truss by soap star Sue Cleaver, Mr Hancock replied: ‘In a way, they were unlucky, in that globally interest rates all went up, just at the time that they were also… bringing in a financial statement where you say, “We’re going to do all these expensive things and we’re not going to say how we’re going to pay for them”.’
I’m A Celebrity continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.