I’M a Tory – get me out of here! That is the demand of former health secretary Matt Hancock, perhaps surveying the Conservative Party’s catastrophic prospects. And it looks like he is getting his wish with a suspension of the Tory whip while he cavorts in the jungle.

In truth, there is a large amount of hypocrisy in all of this. Most of the MPs flinging mud at Hancock would jump at the chance of eating grilled kangaroo testicles in the Outback instead of supping lukewarm soup in the Commons tearoom.

It is, after all, a sort of new honours system in the UK. There are far fewer veterans of the big reality TV shows than there are Privy Councillors in modern politics. Just to be asked to be a guest is a point of real distinction, and we are told that Hancock is working already on “several reality TV projects”.

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It’s not even the certain end of all political ambition. Hancock’s erstwhile Cabinet colleague Nadine Dorries had her own spell eating rice and beans before returning to the green benches. She had the Tory whip restored and advanced onward and upwards to become culture secretary – and Boris Johnson’s uber-loyal lieutenant. Most worrying for the Tory whips will not be Hancock’s return but his likely impending departure.

Despite his bold talk of speaking directly to millions of households with the semi-royal Mike Tindall and Euro 2022 winner Jill Scott, the sad truth is that the producers of I’m A Celebrity won’t be much interested in Hancock’s “wit and wisdom”. Much more appealing to viewers will be to see the bold Matt choke on a kangaroo’s nether regions.

Going on the show is likely a signal that Hancock knows his best days are behind him in politics and that even his once impregnable political fortress in West Suffolk is, in current circumstances, hardly a safe seat.

A source close to Hancock (which narrows the field considerably) put it exactly: “Matt doesn’t expect to serve in government again so it’s an incredible opportunity for him to engage with the 12 million Brits who tune in every night. Matt has told the whips and he will use his time in the jungle to promote his dyslexia campaign.”

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No mention of the cash, you might note. Hancock will have commanded a sum well into six figures for his appearance. And this money aspect probably annoys voters more than anything else.

Kezia Dugdale got into all sorts of bother back in 2018 when it emerged that only a small part of her £70,000 jungle fee was going to charity, after insisting she went on the show to raise money for good causes.

Most of it went on buying a flat, which I suppose was a good cause of some kind!

But herein lies the hypocrisy. Despite the welter of criticism, Kezia was not eventually axed from Scottish Labour and yet Labour are now leading the charge to have Hancock hanged, drawn and quartered.

Much more damaging for Hancock than political humbug is the reaction of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice. In a biting tweet, the group said: “Matt Hancock isn’t a celebrity, he’s the former health secretary who oversaw the UK having one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19 while breaking his own lockdown rules.” Ouch.

That is much more difficult to handle and perhaps Hancock should have spent a bit more time repairing relationships when he was on the political up. It is probably too late now he is on the other side of the curve.

However, Hancock shouldn’t pay too much attention to the political criticism. He needs to concentrate on his personality to impress the viewers. That may require a transplant, of course, but the unlikeliest lads often surprise.

If he wows the jungle then who knows what could beckon next? Bake-off is oven-ready and Strictly only a series away.

Hancock could emerge as the TV star of the modern age, symbolising Britain’s decline as a country in one pair of pants.

For some reason, I’m A Celebrity is on the lower end of reality TV acceptability, along with Big Brother, which is presumably why the fees and viewers are so high.

People who don’t turn a hair about their MPs gliding across a ballroom or collapsing their souffles get very teed off about disappearing into the jungle for weeks on end.

It is all very unfair but Hancock has made his flea-infested bed of straw. Now he will have to lie on it.