Matt Hancock, the Member of Parliament for West Suffolk, has been something of a tabloid feature of late, from his rule-breaking time on the reality TV show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!” through to his comments on the scandal embroiling the Conservative Peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Mone.
Stepping away from politics
It was reported on 28 November that Mr Hancock was in negotiations to step away from politics and into television. This was denied by a spokesperson. Yet less than ten days later, on 7 December, Mr Hancock announced that he was not going to take part in any more reality TV shows, and he was stepping down as an MP at the next election.
Matt Hancock, it appears, has acknowledged that the writing is on the wall for his political career. Councillors in the second largest town in his constituency, Newmarket, passed a vote of no confidence in him in July, shortly after the scandal of his extramarital affair with Gina Coladangelo broke.
Lack of dignity
The concerns and criticisms have been piling up. He was criticised by the Parliamentary Anti Corruption Watchdog before going on ’I’m a Celebrity…’. Concerns were expressed to the Commissioner for Standards over his participation in the show. Earlier this month Ms Stone told MPs on the Standards Committee: “One member of the public contrasted the dignity of veterans on Remembrance Sunday with a former secretary of state … waiting for a buffet of animal genitalia and they wondered what had happened to the dignity of public office.” During Hancock’s absence from his constituency, comedian Adam Hills, star of “The Last Leg” on Channel 4, took part in a mock ‘political surgery’ in the town of Mildenhall.
Perhaps most ominously for his career, before his return from the Australian Jungle, it was noted that the Boundary Commission was changing which towns and villages made up his constituency.
Lack of confidence
Yet perhaps the most important part of his decision to not stand was the fact that the local constituency party had written to the Conservative chief whip stating that Mr Hancock was “Not fit to represent them”. The letter, published on the West Suffolk Conservative Association website, and widely reported, stated that: “A vote was taken that ruled that the Officer Group had no confidence in Matt Hancock our sitting MP, and we would request that the whip is not restored to him”.
“This vote was brought about following feed-back from the constituents in West Suffolk, advising that by virtue of recent events, they consider Matt Hancock not fit to represent this constituency.”
The letter also asked for the Conservative Chief Whip to acknowledge receipt of the letter. Speaking to the BBC, a political ally of Matt Hancock said: “This letter is irrelevant. It hasn’t been sent on behalf of the Association, and the chief whip told Matt he was going to get the whip back. Matt had already decided not to stand again when it came to light.”
Lack of connection
Matt Hancock will not, he says, take part in any further reality TV series. However, he will be seen again on the TV series Celebrity SAS: Who Dare Wins. The episode has been filmed, and the broadcast is expected in spring 2023.
In his letter to the Prime Minister confirming his intention not to stand at the next election, Mr Hancock has said that “the Conservative Party now needs to reconnect with the public we serve.” One option might seem blindingly obvious. Interviewed on “Good Morning Britain” the day after his fake political surgery, Mr Hills agreed with the presenter Richard Madeley that the mood among Mr Hancock’s constituents seemed to be “more in sorrow than in anger”: the residents just wanted to be listened to.