Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’

Sir Tony Blair has praised former Tory health secretary Matt Hancock for his “courage” in taking the controversial decision to spend three weeks in the Australian jungle filming ITV’s I’m A Celebrity while a remaining a sitting MP.

Voting by the British public saw Mr Hancock take third place in the reality TV show – but he now returns to Westminster to face angry colleagues and constituents, having been publicly rebuked by prime minister Rishi Sunak and stripped of the Tory whip for taking part.

The pandemic-era minister resigned after being caught breaking his own health guidance during a romantic affair with an aide, and caused consternation among the hundreds of thousands left bereaved by Covid-19 with his decision to enter the jungle as a “celebrity” contestant the following year.

However, Sir Tony, the former Labour prime minister, sought to defend Mr Hancock and suggested he may have a “point” in his claim to be entering the jungle in order to show voters the “human side” of politicians.

“When you’ve been through the wringer as he has, and you know, as a politician who’s got to a certain level in politics, he’s probably got quite a lot of courage to go and do something like that,” Sir Tony told The News Agents podcast.

“And I mean, people can attack him or whatever … But, you know, it takes a lot of courage to go do something like that. I wished him well, from the outset.”

As the minister in charge of health at the height of the pandemic, Mr Hancock has faced public anger over the government’s “unlawful” decision to discharge Covid patients to care homes without testing them for the virus, and of its distribution of contracts to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers.

During his stint on the programme, Mr Hancock said that he did not regret his handling of the pandemic, insisting that problems were “caused by the virus, not the people who were trying to solve the problem”.

In an apparent defence of his efforts as health secretary, Sir Tony said that he worked with Mr Hancock “a bit during the pandemic”, adding: “He was working hard, they were all working hard on it.”

“The government didn’t cause Covid,” he added. “You can argue whether they should have dealt with it better or not, and so on, and you can make criticisms as you can with any country. The truth is we’re about in the middle of the pack as to how we handled it.”

Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’

Sir Tony Blair said Matt Hancock was ‘working hard’ during the pandemic

(screengrab)

Sir Tony, whose own legacy in office is frequently overshadowed by public anger over his role in the Iraq War, added: “Also, I’ve got to the stage in life where – there’s a certain level of meanness I don’t find attractive when people talk about anyone in public life.”

In his justification for taking part in the show while parliament was in session, Mr Hancock had claimed that entering the jungle would allow him to reach out to voters in a new way.

The former Labour leader suggested that Mr Hancock might have had “a point” – but added that it was “quite an extreme way” of doing so, adding: “I don’t think people’s political views are going to be changed one way or another.

“But I think the problem with politics nowadays is how do you communicate with people when you’re going into fragmented, media, social media, and when it’s quite difficult to get a message across to people who aren’t in your circle, because the way the media works today is essentially, it works by developing a constituency of people and essentially appealing to that constituency.

Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’

Matt Hancock came third in I’m A Celebrity

(James Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock)

“And if you’re not careful, you don’t break out and go and talk to the people who disagree with you. So, I guess in that sense, he’s got a point. But it’s quite an extreme way of reaching the public.”

Earlier on Monday, business secretary Grant Shapps suggested that Mr Hancock’s decision to take part in the show indicated he may have come to the conclusion his career in Westminster is “pretty much done”.

“Why would you go off and spend all that time in the jungle if you were going to carry on in parliament? I’m only speculating,” Mr Shapps said. “But I do think the right place for him to be is in parliament looking after his constituents. It’s a very hard job to do if you’re completely out of touch.”

Elsewhere in the News Agents podcast interview, Sir Tony said he believed it was time for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party to acknowledge that “there is a problem and it needs fixing” with the current Brexit arrangement.

“I think we can afford as a Labour Party to move to the next stage, which is to say: ‘there is a problem, here are practical ways of fixing it that don’t disturb the overall Brexit settlement’, but just recognise that in today’s world, you’ve got to have a relationship with the continent of which you’re a part.

“Because you can change your political and legal relationship with Europe, but you can’t change your geography or your values or your interests.”

Remains of missing Georgia toddler Quinton Simon found in landfill

'My gorgeous auntie!' Princess Andre shows off her family resemblance as she hugs mother Katie Price's sister Sophie in sweet social media snap

EXCLUSIVE: Keep your eye on the ball! Football fan has surgeons install a TV so he can watch Poland in the World Cup as they operate on his ‘lower regions’

Street-Spotted: Peugeot 406 Coupe

George Takei says ‘none’ of the Star Trek cast liked ‘prima donna’ William Shatner

DAN WOOTTON: President Xi’s sick and deranged Zero Covid policy destroying his country is finally crumbling thanks to the brave Chinese freedom fighters. Shame on Ardern, Trudeau, Sturgeon and Hunt who backed such an approach in the West

Παναθηναϊκός: Η υπέροχη υποδοχή του ξενοδοχείου "Cap St. Georges" στην πράσινη αποστολή

BAM decision akin to surgeons reporting to lawyers

Orthopedic Surgeon on rib injury to C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Peugeot Inception concept at CES kicks off an electric year

Elon Musk posted a bizarre photo of his 'bedside table,' featuring 2 guns, 4 empty cans of caffeine-free Coke, and a picture of George Washington

PEUGEOT 408 2023’te Türkiye’ye geliyor

Lezione di geometria. Come prendersi cura del "triangolo della giovinezza"

Turn Your Switch Into A GameCube With This Gorgeous Controller Case

Gorgeous Germany WAG Izabel Goulart cheers on her man Kevin Trapp from the stands – despite him not playing vs Spain

George Burgess announces immediate retirement, aged 30

NEWS RELATED

Herschel Walker Only Recently Stopped Renting Out The Georgia Home He Claims As His Residence

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty When he launched his campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker claimed his deep roots in the state didn’t end with his days as a football legend at the University of Georgia. It was widely known at the time that ...

View more: Herschel Walker Only Recently Stopped Renting Out The Georgia Home He Claims As His Residence

His strength is Limitless! Chris Hemsworth shows off his outrageous bulging biceps and ripped physique during surfing trip with his twin sons

He spends almost every other day in gym. And Chris Hemsworth showed off the fruits of his labour while enjoying a surfing trip with his family in Byron Bay on Sunday afternoon. The Australian actor, 39, who is currently starring in the National Geographic series Limitless, displayed his veiny bulging ...

View more: His strength is Limitless! Chris Hemsworth shows off his outrageous bulging biceps and ripped physique during surfing trip with his twin sons

George Harrison Said the Charts Killed the True Hits Artists Made

George Harrison didn’t appreciate music charts much. He thought they “killed” the truly good music artists recorded. However, George’s real struggle was with the record business. He didn’t like that they churned out the same music on a conveyor belt. Ultimately, they made it easier for him to step away ...

View more: George Harrison Said the Charts Killed the True Hits Artists Made

El filósofo Yuk Hui propone una nueva geopolítica basada en la tecnodiversidad

El filósofo Yuk Hui propone una nueva geopolítica basada en la tecnodiversidad Yuk Hui es uno de los investigadores más interesantes en el terreno de confluencia entre la filosofía y la tecnología. En la Argentina se lo conoció por su libro Fragmentar el futuro (Caja Negra, 2020) y recientemente ...

View more: El filósofo Yuk Hui propone una nueva geopolítica basada en la tecnodiversidad

George Clinton's Odd Request To His Guitarist Eddie Hazel On Funkadelic's Maggot Brain

Eddie Hazel wearing hat Guitarist Eddie Hazel may not have the same mainstream recognition as some of his six-string contemporaries, but that doesn’t diminish his influence on pop culture. As stated in Live For Live Music, he’s most famous for his time with Parliament-Funkadelic (or P-Funk), fitting right in ...

View more: George Clinton's Odd Request To His Guitarist Eddie Hazel On Funkadelic's Maggot Brain

Sen. Raphael Warnock leads Herschel Walker in final week of Georgia Senate runoff

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) holds a slim lead in a new poll and has much more cash on hand as he seeks to put away Republican challenger Herschel Walker in their Georgia Senate runoff. With just a week before the Dec. 6 runoff, Warnock has edged ahead of Walker on ...

View more: Sen. Raphael Warnock leads Herschel Walker in final week of Georgia Senate runoff

Nearly a quarter million vote in single day in Georgia Senate runoff race

Nearly a quarter million vote in single day in Georgia Senate runoff race Nearly a quarter million voters cast their ballots in Georgia’s Senate runoff on Monday, breaking the state’s record for a single day of early voting as incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and challenger Herschel Walker (R) ...

View more: Nearly a quarter million vote in single day in Georgia Senate runoff race

George Takei calls William Shatner 'a cantankerous old man' in latest salvo in long-running feud between former Star Trek costars

George Takei called former Star Trek costar William Shatner ‘a cantankerous old man’ in a new interview, marking the latest in a long-running war of words between the show biz stalwarts. The 85-year-old actor told The Guardian Monday that he didn’t want to continue engaging after Shatner earlier this month said that ...

View more: George Takei calls William Shatner 'a cantankerous old man' in latest salvo in long-running feud between former Star Trek costars

I’m A Celeb’s Owen Warner reveals Boy George saved him from a breakdown in the jungle

Early voting soars in Georgia Senate runoff between Warnock, Walker

The hospital team that’s slashing the surgery backlog by treating its operating theatre like an F1 pitstop and performing swift operations with a high-speed changeover

How Cameroon’s Aboubacker evaded the off-side trap to score the most outrageous chip-scoop goal of the World Cup against Serbia

UFC – Ngannou ou Jon Jones ? Georges St-Pierre révèle le meilleur selon lui !

Driver killed after FedEx truck hit by Amtrak train in Georgia

Toddler Quinton Simon's Remains Found in Georgia Landfill, FBI Confirms

Remains found in Georgia landfill belong to Quinton Simon: FBI

The Beatles: The lives and musical careers of John, Paul, George and Ringo

BREAKING NEWS: Human bones found in Georgia landfill are those of murdered toddler Quinton Simon, FBI confirms

1 dead after Amtrak train, FedEx truck crash in Georgia, authorities say

Großer Preis des Deutschen Literaturfonds für Georg Klein

OTHER NEWS