Matt Hancock has told friends that he is “giving up on politics” as he heads Down Under to join the cast of the hit ITV show. Tory MPs, who were aghast by the decision, have told Express.co.uk that the former Health Secretary “has clocked out” and let it be known he is looking for a new career outside Westminster.
The first to find out was his whip Nigel Huddleston quickly followed by Rishi Sunak’s new Chief Whip Simon Hart who is responsible for party discipline but was landed with a stunning crisis less than two weeks into the job.
One Tory MP said: “Simon [Hart] is quite a mild mannered chap, I’ve never seen him so angry.”
According to one MP, Mr Hancock only revealed that he was going just before he boarded his plane.
The incident had echoes of Nadine Dorries’ trip to Australia to do the same show in 2013 for which she later apologised.
Ms Dorries lost the whip (membership of the parliamentary party) when she came back but Mr Hart this time did not hesitate to pull the trigger and kick Mr Hancock out.
However, several Conservatives MPs said that the former cabinet minister “simply does not care.”
One told Express.co.uk: “He has made no secret that he is looking for a career outside politics.
“He’s been in the cabinet and he’s not interested in just being an MP.”
Several pointed to the fact that he has just published a new book Pandemic Diaries about his time as Health Secretary during the two year crisis.
He was forced to resign before the pandemic was over when footage emerged of him embracing and kissing his special adviser Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall Office.
The incident not only cost him his job but also his marriage.
One MP said: “Matt has his book, he’s on I’m a Celebrity, he is looking for a media career outside Parliament.
“Even if he doesn’t get it he is sure he can earn more outside Westminster than as an MP.”
The Suffolk West MP has insisted that he is giving some of the money he receives from the show to charity.
But one MP noted: “The divorce has cost him a bit, he needs the money so I’d be surprised if he is giving all of it away.”
“While there will undoubtedly be those who think I shouldn’t go, I think it is a great opportunity to talke directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics, even if they care very much about how our country’s run. It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are – not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster.”