The prime minister has said he is “very disappointed” in his former cabinet colleague Matt Hancock for joining I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
The MP for West Suffolk had his Conservative whip suspended after agreeing to be a contestant on the popular ITV reality show while parliament is sitting.
Speaking on his way to COP27 in Egypt, Mr Sunak said he supported the chief whip’s decision to suspend the former health secretary from the Tory party, adding that he should instead be “working hard” for his constituents.
Mr Hancock, 44, said his decision to enter the Australian jungle was driven by a need to “deliver important messages to the masses” and “go where the people are” rather than “sit in ivory towers in Westminster”.
He also previously said he wanted to raise awareness of dyslexia by appearing on the show and insisted it “wasn’t the cheque” which influenced his decision to sign up.
But the prime minister took the opposite view, telling The Sun he was “very disappointed” in Mr Hancock because “MPs should be working hard for their constituents”.
Mr Sunak said: “I think politics is a noble profession, at its best – it can and should be – but it’s incumbent on politicians to earn people’s respect and trust.
“They do that by working hard for their constituents, as the vast majority of MPs do – that is why I was very disappointed with Matt’s decision.”
When asked whether he would be watching the show, Mr Sunak told the newspaper: “I genuinely won’t have the time is the honest answer.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who sits as an independent MP after having the whip removed by his party, also criticised Mr Hancock’s move.
Speaking at a cost of living protest on Saturday, Mr Corbyn told the PA news agency: “I think it’s complete nonsense that he goes on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
“He’s a member of parliament, he’s got a constituency, he should be representing them, not himself on some sort of personality parade.”
The launch episode of I’m A Celebrity on Sunday evening saw a batch of 10 celebrities, including singer Boy George and Love Island star Olivia Attwood, enter the jungle.
Hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said there would be two extra arrivals to the camp, with Donnelly joking that they had managed to keep the identities a “complete secret”.
Donnelly said: “You are going to be surprised, guys. We are going to be rolling out the welcome mat for them soon”, stressing the word “mat”.