Matt Hancock has been ridiculed after it emerged the former health secretary has signed up to join I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in the Australian jungle.
The consequences were immediate, with the MP being suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party and facing a backlash from Tory activists in his West Suffolk constituency, with one saying he was “looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis”.
Meanwhile, campaigners for families bereaved in the Covid-19 pandemic accused him of trying to “cash in on his terrible legacy” as Hancock was expected to continue taking his MP’s salary while appearing on the reality TV show.
In abandoning parliament for entertainment, Hancock, who resigned as health secretary after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing and embracing aide, Gina Coladangelo, in breach of social distancing rules, has cemented his position as a figure of fun among Westminster watchers.
Here’s a brief run-down of his most embarrassing moments.
Accused of “pretending to cry”
In December 2020, Hancock reacted to footage of the first people in the UK receiving the coronavirus vaccine by apparently trying to cry on live TV – and then giving up and laughing instead.
The health secretary, appearing on Good Morning Britain, snuffled and snorted as he witnessed 81-year-old William Shakespeare receiving the jab. Presenters Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid looked sceptical.
Hancock’s performance was compared to a malfunctioning android, Mark Zuckerberg and American Psycho Patrick Bateman. One person simply remarked: “This is North Korea level weird.”
The Alan Partridge comparisons
A recurring theme is how Hancock has a knack of channeling the energy of Alan Partridge, the fictional local radio DJ and personality played by Steve Coogan.
This was in evidence just this week, when it emerged Hancock’s book chronicling the pandemic would be out in time for Christmas.
The cover of the book bears a striking resemblance to Bouncing Back, the Partridge autobiography that described how he “bounced back” after losing his job at the BBC.
Similar comparisons were drawn when Hancock made his own “comeback”.
A 50-second clip uploaded to Twitter (but later deleted) saw Hancock mixing with constituents in Haverhill two months after he resigned.
Many heaped praise upon him and expressed their delight at seeing him again.
But as he tried to fist-bump, small talk and befriend the local people in the video, the internet quickly compared him to Partridge once more.
Standing weirdly close to a woman
Hancock standing next to Warrington Conservative candidate Wendy Maisey during the 2019 election was just … odd.
Two years ago, Hancock praised “Daniel Rashford” for his campaign to help feed disadvantaged children.
Unfortunately the footballer, who forced a U-turn from the government on free school meals, is called “Marcus” not “Daniel”.
The Sunak snub
Part of Hancock’s justification for heading to the jungle seems to be his isolation from Rishi Sunak’s new Cabinet, which became political reality when the new PM gave his ex-colleague the cold shoulder after winning the Tory leadership contest.
In a video clip that went viral, Sunak was met by an applauding crowd upon pulling up to Conservative HQ, and proceeded to shake the hands of his happy colleagues one by one, putting his arm around a few of them.
When he came face to face with Hancock, Sunak swiftly avoided an excited gaze, dodged any handshake and moved on to the person besides him.
Hancock didn’t pause his clapping during this painful and very public snub, but the camera caught his faltering expression.
Odd resignation video
He couldn’t even resign without being rinsed out.
After sending a letter of resignation to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock posted a video on his Twitter page explaining his decision to step down.
But standing in front of a row of bushes drew instant and apt comparisons to Homer Simpson disappearing into a hedge, one of the platform’s favorite memes.
A UN envoy in Africa for a day or two
A few months after is resignation from the Department of Health, Hancock prompted anger when announcing he had been appointed a special representative to the United Nations to help tackle Covid-19 in Africa.
Against the backdrop of the backlash, Hancock claimed days later that the offer had been withdrawn because of a technicality.
In a statement, he said: “The UN have written to me to explain that a technical UN rule has later come to light which states that sitting members of parliament cannot also be UN special representatives.
“Since I am committed to continuing to serve as MP for West Suffolk, this means I cannot take up the position.”
A way with words
Hancock’s turn of phrase has also prompted a fair amount of cringe.
Hancock has said the affair that ended his ministerial career was not about “casual sex” and that he actually “fell in love with somebody”, straying into the ‘too much detail’ territory.
He stressed to the Diary of a CEO podcast that his relationship with Coladangelo, who was a non-exeutive director in the Department of Health at the time, was serious and that he had known her “for more than half of my life”.
“I haven’t had casual sex with anybody,” he said. “I fell in love with somebody.”
The former health secretary said he had brought Coladangelo, who worked with him on student radio at Oxford University, to his department, where they spent “a lot of time together, ironically, trying to get me to be able to communicate in a more emotionally intelligent way”.
And that Partridge comparison struck again during one of the Covid-19 press conferences.
Announcing that the UK had secured its first batch of vaccines, the health secretary mused: “We can see the candle of hope and we must do all that we can to nurture its flame.”
Say what you like about his decision-making, record and commitment to public service, Hancock really comes alive when there’s a camera around. Check out doing parkour in slow-mo.