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29th Nov 2022

I’m A Celeb’s Matt Hancock urged to quit as MP or face being axed by Tories, report claims

Steve Hopkins

‘Use the next couple of years to find yourself something else to do because as an MP on behalf of the Tories, you’re finished’

Matt Hancock has reportedly been urged to trigger a by-election – or face being booted out by local Tories following his appearance on I’m A Celebrity.

The Mirror reported on Tuesday that the former health secretary is trying to hang on to his political career after finishing third in the reality series on Sunday, behind winner Jill Scott and Owen Warner, but is yet to say when he will return to his ministerial duties.

Hancock, who was suspended from the Troy whip after being announced as a contestant on the show, is said to want to remain an MP. He is due to land in London on Wednesday amid mounting pressure to confirm how much of his £400,000 fee he will donate to charity.

Ian Houlder, a Conservative councillor in Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency, wants party chiefs to rule out Hancock’s return to the party, telling the Mirror: “I just hope they say, ‘No, mate, you’re out – use the next couple of years to find yourself something else to do because as an MP on behalf of the Tories, you’re finished, end of story’.”

Houlder said he believes even if Hancock gets back the whip, local Tories would deselect him, and as an independent he “he wouldn’t stand a chance”.

“I think ultimately the Tory Party won’t give him the whip back and (will) give him a chance to get his beans in a row to find something else to do.”

On Monday night, Newmarket Town Council in Hancock’s constituency all voted ‘Yes’ to pass a motion calling for the MP’s resignation, except one independent councillor who abstained from the vote, the Mirror reported.

The council confirmed to the publication that it had written to Hancock asking for him to resign.

Tory MPs have been given until next Monday (December 5) to decide whether they want to stand for re-election.

Unless the whip is restored by then, the party may be forced to choose a new candidate for Hancock’s seat, which he won with a 23,194 majority in December 2019.

Houlder said: “I would like to see him do the honourable thing – which is almost laughable – and step down, say to everybody, ‘I’m stepping down now, I want the system to call a by-election’.”

Business Secretary Grant Shapps has said Hancock’s ITV stint suggested he had given up hope of reviving his political career.

“Why would you go off and spend all that time in the jungle if you were going to carry on in Parliament?” he said, adding that he believes Hancock may have “come to the conclusion that his parliamentary career is pretty much done”.

Hancock’s spokesman told the Mirror he has no intention of standing down or “stepping away from politics”.

William Hill is now offering odds on the 44-year-old appearing on Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing On Ice.

Read the full Mirror story here.

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