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Disgraced former UK minister kicked off reality TV show

November 28, 2022

Ex-Health Minister Matt Hancock led Britain's response to COVID-19 but was forced to quit for breaking lockdown rules. He attempted to rehabilitate himself by appearing on "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here."

Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on June 17, 2021
Former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock was voted off the reality show on SundayImage: Steve Reigate/Daily Express/empics/picture alliance

Britain's scandal-prone former health secretary Matt Hancock was voted off the TV reality show "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" on Sunday evening, following a much-publicized attempt to repair his reputation by appearing in the hit series.

Hancock was forced to resign in June 2021 after The Sun newspaper published surveillance video footage showing him breaking COVID-19 social distance rules that he helped devise. The tabloid caught him kissing and groping an aide he was having an affair with.

As health secretary, he had helped guide the UK through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine rollout, despite Britain being woefully unprepared for a health emergency due to a lack of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff.

Hancock suspended as Tory MP

Hancock's acceptance to appear in the gruesome reality show, which is set in the Australian outback, also caused controversy as he is still a sitting MP for the ruling Conservative Party.

As a result, he lost the party whip, effectively being expelled from the party, and must now sit as an independent lawmaker in Parliament when he returns to London.

Many viewers expected he would be voted off much earlier, but Hancock still made it through to the final three and beat eight other contestants in viewers' choice through phone-in voting during the three-week-long series that airs every night.

He also earned some 400,000 pounds (€465,000, $483,000) by appearing in the reality series.

TV show sets grizzly challenges for contestants

During the show, the celebrities —  including singer Boy George, a former female English soccer player, a national TV news anchor, a national radio host, an ex-Rugby player and two soap actors among others — were given gut-churning challenges.

They included eating the raw private parts of camels, cows and sheep and undergoing trials involving spiders and snakes.

Despite making it to the final three, many Britons have been disgusted by Hancock's appearance, blaming him for apparent failings in the government's early response to the pandemic.

Some voters are still aggrieved about revelations that several parties were held in Whitehall while the rest of the country was locked down.

At one point during the reality series, a COVID campaign group flew a plane with a nine-meter (30 ft) protest banner demanding that Hancock leave the show.

The lawmaker admitted during one episode that he had "messed up" during his tenure as health secretary and said he had signed up to the show seeking "forgiveness."

Despite loss, Hancock could return

Despite being suspended, Hancock could still make a political comeback.

In 2012, Conservative lawmaker Nadine Dorries was suspended for appearing on the same show. Nine years later, she was appointed to then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson's cabinet as culture secretary.

Former England soccer star Jill Scott later Sunday night was picked as the show's overall winner, beating actor Owen Warner for second place.

With material from The Associated Press.

Edited by Amanda Rivkin