Matt Hancock has said being voted leader of the I’m A Celebrity campsite “more than makes up for” losing to Boris Johnson in the 2019 Tory Party leadership election.
The 44-year-old MP was among those who threw their hat into the ring to replace Theresa May in Number 10, but withdrew part way through the contest before putting his support behind Mr Johnson.
Sunday’s episode of I’m A Celebrity saw him receive enough votes from the public to enter a head-to-head with former England rugby star Mike Tindall for control of the campsite.
The former health secretary recruited ITV broadcaster Charlene White, who he has previously clashed with over his breaking of COVID-19 guidance during the pandemic, and they were triumphant in a challenge that saw them working together to switch on a series of lights.
Ahead of the task, Tindall joked: “If I went home, and I’d lost to Matt Hancock, I’d be in so much s**t.”
Hancock then told White: “We are definitely the underdogs”, before she replied: “Did you go into the leadership challenge thinking you were the underdog?”
After their win, Hancock declared: “Obviously, it’s a great honour and privilege to be camp leader. I want to thank everybody who voted for me.”
White asked: “Does this win feel sweet, especially after you lost to Boris? Do you feel like you have been vindicated?”, to which he replied: “This more than makes up for it.”
However, their success prompted soap star Sue Cleaver, Tindall’s would-be deputy, to remark: “We now have a dictatorship…”
Hancock and White were then charged with assigning their campmates to chores while remaining exempt and getting the chance to sleep inside the RV – a step up from the campsite.
Earlier in the episode, Hancock was stung by a scorpion which “unexpectedly” nipped him on the finger. He later told his fellow contestants: “It was so painful… It hurts a lot, and I’m feeling slightly dizzy.”
He was seen by a medic straight away, with TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas later joking in the Bush Telegraph: “He looked like he wanted to cry.”
Snakes and offal
Hancock was voted to become leader of the campsite after facing his fifth consecutive trial, House of Horrors, in which he had to crawl through a giant doll’s house full of pigeons, snakes and troughs full of offal, searching for stars to feed the camp.
Asked by co-host Declan Donnelly why he thought the public kept voting for him to take part in the gruelling trials, Hancock responded: “It must be the facial expressions.”
Facing his fear of snakes, the Tory MP located nine out of the 11 stars on offer, despite a snake attempting to strike him at eye level.
After returning triumphant to camp, he admitted: “I was absolutely shi**ing myself.”
The episode also saw former England footballer Jill Scott recalling playing football aged five and how her grandmother had predicted her success.
Attwood’s blood test
It comes after former Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood revealed she was forced to withdraw from the show after a routine blood test showed she was anaemic.
The test, which all the contestants undergo randomly throughout the show, also suggested low sodium and potassium levels, prompting staff to immediately take her to hospital.
Attwood, 31, disclosed the reason for her departure after only 24 hours in the Australian jungle in an interview with the Mail On Sunday.
However, she also said her tests at the hospital and back in the UK produced normal results.
A show spokesman said: “As a precautionary measure, Olivia needed to leave the jungle to undergo some medical checks.
“Unfortunately, the medical team has advised it is not safe for Olivia to return to camp as there needs to be further investigation.
“She has been absolutely brilliant, and she’ll be very much missed on the show.”