Thursday, December 22, 2022

Matt Hancock ‘could have a TV career like Michael Portillo’ after I’m a celebrity, friends claim

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Friends advised the former health secretary not to appear on the reality TV show, but he can now use it as a springboard for further media engagements

Matt Hancock could be in line for a Michael Portillo-style TV career after his surprise success I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!say friends of the former health minister.

The West Suffolk MP lost the Conservative whip when he joined the reality show this month but shocked Westminster when he reached the final due to his apparent popularity with the public.

It is now expected that Mr Hancock, 42, will be making a number of other media appearances over the coming months and years.

It was previously reported that he has already filmed an appearance on the reality show Celebrity SAS: He who dares winswhich is due to air next year, although Channel 4 has yet to confirm its appearance.

Friends say he decided to go into the jungle after concluding he was unlikely to return to the top echelons of politics anytime soon – and modeled himself on Michael Portillo, who left Parliament have to forge a successful media career.

Mr Portillo, a former defense secretary, came close to becoming leader of the Conservatives twice, but after resigning from the House of Commons in 2005 he became known for presenting documentaries on the railroad and other non-political issues and for being a political pundit.

An MP who is a friend of Mr Hancock told the story I: “I think he knew it was going to be a long journey back to the Cabinet. I couldn’t believe he did it, but obviously he did it pretty well.”

Although he has gained some popularity through his appearance on the TV show, his reception as a mainstream media figure is less certain.

While friends believe he would be a hit, some of the reasons behind his controversial appearance on I’m a Celeb are unlikely to go away and could still cast a shadow over his future. In particular, anger remains that he broke the Covid rules that ordinary people have had to follow, some of them to the point of being unable to visit dying family members in hospital.

The ex-cabinet minister even shocked some of his closest confidants with his decision to join i am a celebrity, having previously turned down ITV’s offer twice. He supported Rishi Sunak in the summer’s leadership elections and again after Liz Truss’ resignation, but was not rewarded with a return to government.

The Prime Minister has criticized Mr Hancock for spending three weeks in Australia instead of working for his constituents in Suffolk and Westminster.

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, told Sky News on Sunday: “If you are a Member of Parliament and Parliament is sitting, I think your job is to represent your constituents, either in your constituency or in Parliament. I don’t think incumbent MPs should take part in reality TV shows.

“As good as they are at it, I still think they should be doing the job for which they get a good salary – which is representing their constituents.”

He said it was up to Chief Whip, Simon Hart, to decide whether Mr Hancock could represent the Conservatives in Parliament. If he does not regain the whip soon, he may be barred from running for re-election.

However, former Cabinet Secretary Theresa Villiers supported Mr Hancock, saying ahead of the final: “I think it would be great if he won. I have to say when it first started I found it very difficult to watch but he did a fantastic job, I definitely voted for him and I wish him all the best for the finale.” She added that as “the engaging and great person that he is,” came across.

The MP’s staff have used his social media accounts to rally support online, and other I’m a Celebrity contestants have noted how he tries to find the phone number for viewers to call to vote for him. to be visible at all times.

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