Boy George has cast doubt on Matt Hancock’s reasons for doing I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, saying that he did it to have fun and raise his profile.
The Culture Club singer, who appeared in the latest series of the ITV reality show, said in a new interview that he doesn’t believe the MP’s claims that he entered the jungle in order to harness what he previously said was an “honest and unfiltered” way to communicate with voters.
Hancock, who is MP for West Suffolk and was health secretary for much of the COVID pandemic, insisted in an article published by The Sun last month that his constituents were his “first priority”. He added that, as someone with dyslexia, he also wanted to use the programme to spotlight the condition and highlight his continued campaigning about it.
During the programme, Hancock said that he was taking part for “forgiveness” over his handling of the pandemic and other controversies. He appeared to apply that notion to his extra-marital affair with Tory aide Gina Rinehart, whom he was pictured embracing in an office while lockdown guidance on household mixing was in place.
But Boy George has said that he doesn’t believe Hancock’s reasons for joining I’m A Celebrity, a move that prompted the Conservative Party to remove the whip from Hancock.
“Don’t believe anything Matt says about why he did I’m A Celebrity this year,” George told The Sun on Sunday over the weekend. “He did it because he wants to kick up his heels and have a good time” [newspaper quotes via The Mirror].
George added: “We all know that politicians are real people. We also know everyone wants to be a rock star, everybody. Especially politicians. So it’s impossible to believe some people’s reasons for doing something.
“Ultimately, they are doing it for a bigger profile, a bit more attention, hopefully showing people a different side.”
Hancock surpassed the expectations of many by reaching the final of the programme before losing to runner-up, Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner, and the 2022 winner, England Women’s team footballer Jill Scott.
On the show, he was questioned about his handling of the pandemic by fellow contestants including George and ITV newsreader Charlene White.
Hancock’s decision to join the show caused his suspension from the Conservative Party. He was last month criticised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who said he was “disappointed” by the move, adding that it was right that he lost the Tory whip over it.
Last week, Hancock confirmed that he won’t stand as an MP at the next General Election, (held no later than January 2025). The MP said that he will instead aim to “influence the public debate” from outside Parliament.
He said in a TikTok clip that although it has been a “huge privilege” to do his job, he was looking to “engage with the public in new ways”.
MPs from the opposition parties were quick to have their say. Labour MP David Lammy told Hancock “good riddance” and called him a “walking disaster”, while Jess Philips admitted to finding it “utterly depressing” that “Matt Hancock thinks you can only communicate about politics by going on reality TV”.
Meanwhile, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas was similarly disparaging, saying “we’re all looking forward to him leaving Parliament once and for all”. She later jokingly raised the possibility of him going on Strictly Come Dancing.
Elsewhere, it’s since been reported by The Telegraph that the former health secretary is planning a series of “serious documentaries” on assisted dying and dyslexia.