Matt Hancock has admitted there was “no excuse” for the actions that led to his resignation as health secretary after being told by a fellow campmate that it was “a slap in the face” for the public.
The 44-year-old joined the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here on Wednesday, entering the camp with comedian Seann Walsh after facing a backlash over his decision from the public and fellow politicians.
The West Suffolk MP was forced to quit Boris Johnson’s cabinet in June 2021 after breaking COVID social distancing rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
While Hancock conceded that he wasn’t proud of his actions, he insisted it was because he “fell in love” when he was questioned by his camp mates.
TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas confronted him as they did chores in the jungle, saying: “A lot of things that happened with you during the times, which does make it difficult because people are angry and upset – emotions are running high.
“It was hard. A lot of people had difficult times. And then to see that people that had kind of set the rules had then broken them, I think was a big slap in the face for everyone.”
Hancock replied: “Look, I know how people felt. That’s why I resigned, right? I know how people felt, and so good on you for saying that, thank you.”
Later in the Bush Telegraph, he added: “Scarlette was very open and also very thoughtful, and that’s really what it’s all about.
“Being able to talk about things, whether they’re things you’re proud of, or things you’re not proud of.”
‘You were grabbing booty bruv’
Later, speaking to comedian Babatunde Aleshe, Hancock discussed how his life had changed after his affair became public, saying it was “really tough”.
“I messed up and I fessed up. I resigned and it’s no excuse but I fell in love, right? That also had a lot of other consequences, obviously,” he said.
Referring to the CCTV footage, Aleshe responded, You didn’t just ‘fall in love’ you were grabbing booty bruv”, to which Hancock responded “oh give over”.
The episode also saw Hancock take part in the latest Bushtucker Trial, Tentacles of Terror, in which he was trapped inside an octopus-shaped cage full of underwater critters.
As he began his trial, co-host Ant McPartlin said to him: “You must have met a few snakes in your time in Westminster.”
‘F*** being in his job when that was going on’
As Hancock made his way back to the camp, comedian Walsh and soap star Sue Cleaver discussed his decision to enter the Australian jungle.
Defending him, Walsh said: “I’m not justifying anything that that guy did or certainly what that government… the decisions they’ve made, but f*** being in his job when that was going on.”
Cleaver replied: “I totally, totally agree with you, but the choice after everything that happened and the impact on everybody at home and families and people in homes to make a choice to come into I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! does not sit well with me.
“He’s got constituents back at home, he’s a serving member of parliament.”
Hancock will also take on the trial on Friday night’s episode, alongside singer Boy George, after being voted in by the public.
Both will compete in the eating challenge at La Cucaracha Cafe, which means the Cockroach cafe in Spanish.