Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock insists his decision to take part in I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! was inspired by a desire to highlight his campaign to defeat dyslexia.
The Conservative MP, who has been stripped of the Government whip, is joining the likes of ex-rugby player Mike Tindall, singer Boy George and DJ Chris Moyles in the Australian Jungle as the reality ITV show gets underway on Sunday (November 6).
Speaking to The Sun, the West Suffolk MP revealed he was aware that swapping the comforts of his usual surroundings in Westminster for the jungle, would be a test, but would be worth it.
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He said: "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."
The politician added: "Far too many people in Britain don’t find out they’re dyslexic until they’ve left school, and tragically don’t get the support they need. I was diagnosed at the age of 18, after I left school.
"My diagnosis was a lightbulb moment and after many years of thinking I just wasn’t very good at reading, I finally understood why I didn’t always understand.
"As a backbench MP, I have the freedom and time to champion causes I believe in and care about – including dyslexia.
"I want to raise the profile of my dyslexia campaign to help every dyslexic child unleash their potential – even if it means taking an unusual route to get there, via the Australian jungle. I’m A Celebrity is watched by millions of Brits up and down the country."
Mr Hancock, who was health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed he had twice turned down the chance to appear on I'm A Celebrity over the summer after being approached by show bosses, but had a change of heart last week.
He added: "And no, it wasn’t the cheque that changed my mind. I will be making a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and causes supporting dyslexia off the back of my appearance.
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"I will, of course, also declare the amount I receive from the show to Parliament to ensure complete transparency, as normal."
Some West Suffolk constituents told the BBC they thought Mr Hancock should be focusing on local issues, not jetting across the world for a reality show.
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, said he was looking forward to seeing Mr Hancock "eating a kangaroo's penis".
Mr Hancock is not the first politician to appear on reality TV, with George Galloway appearing on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, Penny Morduant – who recently tried to become the Tory leader – was on ITV's Splash! in 2014, and Ed Balls, the former Labour cabinet minister, starred on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.
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