Former UK health minister draws fire for reality TV stint

Oct 31, 2022, 7:13 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2022, 7:20 am
FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, the then British Health Secretary Matt Hancock ...

FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, the then British Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, April 30, 2020. Former U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who led Britain's response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, was suspended by the Conservative Party on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 after signing up to a reality TV show. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON (AP) — Former U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who led Britain’s response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, was suspended by the Conservative Party on Tuesday after signing up to a reality TV show.

Hancock, who is no longer in government but remains a member of Parliament, is to compete on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here.” The show sends a group of famous people, often C-list celebrities, to the Australian rainforest, subjects them to trials involving spiders and snakes, and allows the public to vote them out one by one.

Other contestants this year include Culture Club singer Boy George and former rugby player Mike Tindall, whose wife, Zara, is the niece of King Charles III.

Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart called Hancock’s participation in the program “a matter serious enough to warrant suspension of the whip with immediate effect.” That means Hancock will not be part of the Conservative caucus in Parliament but will sit as an independent.

Hancock quit as health secretary in June 2021 after breaching coronavirus lockdown rules by having an affair with an aide in his office – violating a ban on different households mixing.

Hancock said he planned to use the show to raise awareness about dyslexia.

A group that campaigns for relatives of people who died during the pandemic said Hancock should be “seeking to reflect on the appalling consequences of his time in government.” The U.K. has recorded almost 178,000 coronavirus deaths.

“My family was ripped apart by Matt Hancock’s actions, and turning on the TV to see him being paraded around as a joke is sickening,” Lobby Akinnola, a member of the group COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union for senior civil servants, also was unimpressed.

“Oh, to have a job where you can decide for yourself you’re taking a month off, abandon your work and responsibilities, get paid shedloads and face little consequence,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll be an inspiration to other public servants.”

Max Blain, the spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said “the prime minister believes that at a challenging time for the country, MPs should be working hard for their constituents.” Blain said it was “unlikely” Sunak would watch “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here.”

Still, a political comeback for Hancock is not out of the question. Conservative lawmaker Nadine Dorries was suspended in 2012 for appearing on the same show. Nine years later, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed her to his Cabinet.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/british-politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police officers stand guard as other officers in yellow vests walk back at the cordoned off area ne...
Associated Press

Spain: 2 new letter bombs detected after Ukraine blast

MADRID (AP) — Spanish police are investigating a suspect letter bomb sent to an air base outside Madrid early Thursday, a day after a letter bomb exploded at the Ukrainian Embassy injuring an employee, the interior and defense ministries said. Government officials said another explosive package was detected Wednesday evening at an arms factory in […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Swedish police make large drug seizure in Stockholm area

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish police said Thursday that they have seized around 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of narcotics in Stockholm, with a total street value of about 80 million kronor ($7.6 million). Three men have been arrested on suspicion of serious drug offences in connection with Saturday’s raid in Tyreso, south of the Swedish capital. […]
1 day ago
A child wearing a face mask and riding on a scooter passes by a worker in protective suit on his wa...
Associated Press

China eases some virus controls, searches pedestrians

BEIJING (AP) — More Chinese cities eased some anti-virus restrictions as police patrolled their streets to head off protests Thursday while the ruling Communist Party prepared for the high-profile funeral of late leader Jiang Zemin. Guangzhou in the south, Shijiazhuang in the north, Chengdu in the southwest and other major cities announced they were easing […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Australian jailed in Myanmar applauded in Parliament

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sean Turnell, an Australian economist who spent almost two years imprisoned in Myanmar, received a hero’s welcome Thursday at Australia’s Parliament House where lawmakers rose in a standing ovation and the prime minister praised his courage, optimism and resilience. Turnell, an adviser to Myanmar’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in Ne...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation.
1 day ago
FILE - European Council President Charles Michel arrives to meet with European Union foreign policy...
Associated Press

China’s Xi urges Ukraine talks in meeting with EU’s Michel

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged negotiations on a political solution to the Ukraine conflict in talks with visiting European Council President Charles Michel in Beijing Thursday, state broadcaster CCTV said. Xi was quoted as saying that “solving the Ukrainian crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSPA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Former UK health minister draws fire for reality TV stint