Across the UK on 1 November 2022, jaws were dropped and mugs of tea spilt as notifications pinged our phones—informing us that none other than former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was strapping on a pair of combat boots and heading into the Australian outback for the 20th season of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
View this post on Instagram
Out of both sheer shock and embarrassment, the British public watched horrified as the MP boasted to news publications that he was geared up and ready for the challenge ahead. Sharing his personal thoughts on the matter, Hancock wrote in The Sun: “Some may think I’ve lost my marbles or had one too many drinks, swapping the comfortable surroundings of Westminster and West Suffolk for the extreme conditions of the Australian outback.”
“While there will undoubtedly be those who think I shouldn’t go, I think it’s a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics, even if they care very much about how our country’s run. It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are—not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster,” the former cabinet member continued.
In order to try and break down the discourse surrounding this highly contentious issue, we’ve identified the key conversations circulating in the media so far. So, while we all await the satisfying moment when Hancock is forced to digest a kangaroo testicle on national television, let’s revisit some of the hard facts.
So, when the news first broke of Hancock’s reality TV escapades, the BBC reported that he had been suspended as a Conservative MP. Perhaps the Tory party leaders thought having one of their own competing in Bushtucker trials would reflect badly on them…? Of course, numerous COVID-19 violations—as serving Health Secretary during the pandemic—didn’t quite do the trick.
However, this suspension does not mean that he is no longer a registered Member of Parliament—with, might I add, an MP’s wage. So, despite having jetted off to Australia, Hancock is still the West Sussex representative and therefore is still receiving his £84,144 salary, as confirmed by the BBC.
Now, Hancock has insisted that his appearance on the reality TV show is strictly for dyslexia awareness promotional purposes, rather than a baseless attempt at fame. However, if the former secretary is officially done with political service, as he’s stated multiple times, why is he still reaping the financial benefits?
There’s also the question of his payment for actually appearing on the show. Rumoured to be approximately £400,000, a spokesman of Hancock has claimed that the MP had pledged to donate an unknown sum of this money to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and causes supporting dyslexia, as reported by The Independent.
As we know, politicians are often as slippery as the snakes featured on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, so we’ll have to wait and see how this pledge plays out.
Understandably, members of the public were overwhelmingly critical of this decision. In particular, those who had lost friends of family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic were incredibly insulted by the former Health Secretary’s decision.
Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Cathy Gardner—whose father died in a care home in 2020 due to COVID—said, “To see him just paraded on television, like he’s some kind of fun figure, so he can make some money and make himself into some kind of fake celebrity” was “insulting” and “completely sick.”
The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice organisation also commented on the matter, stating: “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 whilst breaking his own lockdown rules.”
Netizens also had some choice words for Hancock. On Twitter, for example, one user wrote, “The British public is getting ready to torture Matt Hancock,” while another chimed in “We pledge as a nation to vote for Matt Hancock for every trial right?”
And now, it appears that the public might finally be able to get some satisfaction from this absurd appearance. Last night, Tuesday 8 November, the show teased Hancock’s debut—with the MP promising viewers to expect “warts and all.”
If any of his constituents were worried about having their voices in Parliament squashed due to a lack of representation, fear not—Hancock himself has provided a clear solution, stating in his declaration in The Sun: “My excellent team in West Suffolk will continue to oversee matters relating to the constituency, like they already do when I’m in Westminster. As soon as my time in camp is up, I will return to Suffolk to hold a surgery where I will catch up with my constituents and discuss matters of concern.”
Considering his clear statements about having zero interest in returning to public office, we can’t imagine that discussion will go particularly smoothly. I’m already awaiting next year’s Love Island dreaded announcement: “A new bombshell enters the villa.” I imagine Hancock already has his swimming trunks packed.
In other news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become the first world leader to appear on a franchise of RuPaul’s Drag Race. According to CTV News, Trudeau will make a cameo in the upcoming spin-off Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. the World during a segment where contestants will receive inspiring words from the leader before they hit the runway. Now, that’s how you blend politics and reality TV.
Oh, and if you haven’t already consumed your daily intake of cringe—here’s Hancock’s official introductory video to I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
It’s time to enter the workroom, gather around Mother and imagine a far off parallel universe where, instead of a British political embarrassment, Liz Truss’ fall from power was simply a high stakes, ultra dramatic, and overwhelmingly juicy series of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can see it now—cabinet members lip-syncing against one another in five-inch heels while Michelle Visage sits behind the judges’ panel sporting a bright pink leopard print corset.
I think we can all agree that the sheer hectic nature of our former Prime Minister’s government calls for some immediate analysis and attention. However, because I’m not basic, instead of attempting to insert myself within rather tedious, repetitive, and often contentious political dialogue, I thought it would be far more entertaining (and hopefully insightful) to consider Truss’ major flop the best way I know: through the lens of my favourite form of escapism—a show so flamboyant, that it makes British national treasure Graham Norton appear like a character out of Eastenders.
So, everyone, prepare yourselves for a hefty dose of irony and a sprinkle of sarcasm as we look back on Liz Truss’ short-lived 45 days in office.
For all my Drag Race fans out there, we know the significance of an entrance’s opening line. Once you’ve strutted into the workroom—or in this case, 10 Downing Street—your initial greeting and approach will undoubtedly help solidify your place among both the other girls (cabinet members) and the audience (the British public, duh).
For example, when legendary queen Morgan McMichaels fluffed up her hair, turned to face the camera, and stated: “I look pretty good for a dead bitch,” we knew she meant business. Similarly, if Truss had chosen to enter No 10 hidden in an oversized box the unmistakable blue colour of Tiffany & Co.—as Shangela did in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 (the drag championship of champions)—things would have probably turned out differently.
Alas, our former PM picked a rather different approach, choosing instead to deliver a whopping amount of praise onto preceding loser Boris Johnson, marking his historic time in office as “hugely consequential.” Weird flex, but okay.
Considering Johnson’s overwhelming disappointment and destruction as Prime Minister, it was definitely a bold move for Truss to speak so highly of BoJo. From COVID-19 lockdown nightmares to performative diversity within his cabinet, I think it’s pretty evident this former clown-in-chief would not have won Miss Congeniality.
From Kwasi Kwarteng to Suella Braverman, Truss faced a multitude of challenges during her stint in office. Most apparent was her inability to maintain a cohesive cabinet, and when you consider the fact that she only served as PM for a mere 45 days, this harsh reality becomes quite frightening in relation to the future and prosperity of our country’s democracy.
Now, if we reimagine this car crash as simply contestants exiting the competition after failing a sewing challenge—things become slightly less traumatising. Well, kind of…
Let’s take Kwarteng, for example. The former chancellor was fired by Truss primarily due to his mini-budget—wherein he proposed $45 billion in unfunded tax cuts—which resulted in “a record low against the dollar, sent the cost of government borrowing and mortgage rates up and led to an unprecedented intervention by the Bank of England,” as reported by Sky News.
You know the moment when Ru asks all of the contestants on stage which queen should be sent home? Well, this is what I picture when considering Truss sacking her close friend and colleague. Naturally, in my imagination, they’re standing under a glowing spotlight, their foreheads beaded with sweat, and they’re asked that daunting question: “Who should go home?”
Now, I personally don’t believe neither Truss nor Kwarteng have ‘Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve or Talent’. However, I do know how ruthless these games can be, and so, it was only a matter of time before contestants began to drop like flies and frontrunners started revealing their claws.
Unfortunately for Truss, she was none the wiser that it would be her time to bid adieu only five days later.
Do you remember the intensity at which media pundits across the UK debated whether it would be Rishi Sunak or Truss that would clinch the Prime Ministerial role back in September? Imagine how much easier it would have been had the two candidates simply been forced to compete in one ultimate lip sync battle.
Even more importantly, the results would have been far fairer as a panel of clued in and freshly-manicured gen Z judges would have either concurred on who was the most fabulous winner, or—if they couldn’t agree—both contenders would simply be asked to “sashay away” and Mother Ru herself would have clinched the crown. That way everyone wins?
If these two political opponents had faced off in a lip sync extravaganza, what do you think the song choice would be? Would they be doing death drops to Britney Spears’ ‘Stronger’, or would their wig-reveals demand a slightly more seductive track? I’m thinking of perhaps an ode to the iconic moment when Roxxy Andrews and Alyssa Edwards performed high art during a powerhouse rendition of Rhianna’s timeless ‘Shut up and Drive’.
As The Independent recently discovered, the former chancellor of the exchequer has been known to favour Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ while our most recent PM has often referred to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’. Either way, I think we can all agree that both politicians would most likely end up pulling a Valentina mask moment. “I’d like to keep it on please.”
Nevertheless, Sunak emerged victorious and the millionaire MP has now officially been sworn in as the UK’s most recent Prime Minister—we’re currently sporting a Guiness World Record of three leaders in three months, by the way. So, it’s sure to be an even messier season than the last.
Stay tuned for the likes of: The Real Housewives of Downing Street, Love is Blind: MP edition and Keeping up with the Sunaks.