Matt Hancock through to final on I’m A Celebrity

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Former health secretary Matt Hancock has reached Sunday’s final of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! along with actor Owen Warner and footballer Jill Scott after Mike Tindall was eliminated.

The former England rugby player, who is married to King Charles III’s niece, Zara Tindall, received the fewest votes from the public, ending his stint on the ITV reality programme.

Mike Tindall said afterwards he wanted former England player Scott to win.

It means Hancock could unexpectedly win the show and be crowned king of the jungle on Sunday night.

His decision to appear had been criticised by MPs and the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who said he was “very disappointed” in the former health secretary.

Earlier this month, Dr Cathy Gardner – a bereaved daughter who won a high court ruling that Hancock’s policy on care home discharges at the start of the Covid pandemic was unlawful – said the producers’ decision to cast him and pay him a substantial fee was “two fingers to those of us who are bereaved, because they just don’t seem to care about how significant he was”.

The Conservative MP joined the show on 9 November and his resignation as health secretary last year for breaking coronavirus social distancing rules has been a primary topic of conversation.

He acknowledged to campmates in the Australian jungle there was “no excuse” for the actions that led to his resignation in June 2021 after being photographed kissing a colleague, Gina Coladangelo, in his ministerial office during the pandemic but insisted he “fell in love”.

The following day Hancock said on the programme that he was looking for “forgiveness” for breaking social distancing rules after one of his fellow reality show contestants, Loose Women presenter Charlene White, criticised his behaviour.

He was named camp leader after facing his fifth consecutive bushtucker trial.

The MP said being voted leader of the I’m a Celebrity campsite “more than makes up for” losing the 2019 Tory party leadership election.

Earlier this week, it was ruled that Hancock breached the government’s business appointment rules by not consulting the watchdog before appearing on the show, the chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments said.

However, it was recommended that no further action should be taken.

Hancock, who lost the Tory whip after it was announced he would be appearing on the ITV programme, is still being paid as an independent MP and is rumoured to have been paid ?400,000 to appear on the programme.

But the former health secretary could be stopped from standing as a Conservative MP in the next general election if he does not regain the Tory whip soon.

Conservative MPs have until 5 December to tell party HQ whether they want to stand again.

Unless the whip is restored before then, Hancock will remain as an independent MP and his West Suffolk constituency association would have to select a new candidate.

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