IAC’s Matt Hancock is ‘typically flawed but I want him to win,’ says former star

Matt Hancock's choice to join the line-up of this year's series of I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is undoubtedly one of the most controversial and widely-discussed news announcements of 2023.

But despite his presence in the Aussie camp dividing the nation – with some believing his Covid-19 rule-breaking as Health Secretary should have disallowed him from taking part – his political pal of over a decade, and former I'm A Celeb star Lembit Öpik is rooting for the ex-MP to win, dubbing Matt "typically flawed but fundamentally good-hearted human".

When asked whether a widely-unpopular Matt – who broke Covid rules by embarking on an extra-marital affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo last year – has been doing himself any favours by mentioning his now-girlfriend, Lembit believes he is.

"When he talks about falling in love with Gina and the mistakes he’s made, it’s the real deal," Lembit, 57, explains. "He’s typically flawed but fundamentally a good-hearted human.

"I think only a cynical hater would continue to ignore his genuineness and the good he’s doing in the jungle. Even the most anti-Matt campmates – like Chris Moyles and Boy George – are warming up to him."

Lembit – who took part in the tenth series of the Aussie series, landing in 11th place – also believes disgraced politician Matt, 44, has what it takes to become King of The Jungle, despite a rocky start with his fellow campmates.

"I didn’t think [Matt could win] initially. I predicted the public would keep him in for a bit just to punish him and then desert him," Lembit discloses.

"But now, I think it’s possible that if Matt carries on as he is and as his ‘enemies’ in camp become friends, it could happen. He’d love to win, but he’s not expecting it.

"Matt will leave when he’s told to go, and he’ll do it without complaint and he’ll speak honestly to the media. He’ll be surprised by the level of interest. He’s the first politician in the history of the show to be the main character."

Since venturing Down Under, ex-MP Matt’s behaviour has been closely monitored, not just by audiences at home, but by his fellow campmates.

The day of his unexpected arrival saw Loose Women panellist Charlene White grill him, "Why did you do it? Why are you here?".

"It’s hard to push your views aside," added comedian Babatunde Aleshe. "Because of the many people whose lives were affected, but at the same time, we’ve got to be welcoming."

Former rugby star and Royal Family member Mike Tindall also had his say on Matt’s decision to join the line-up, telling Corrie’s Sue Cleaver, "Everyone asked him, ‘Why have you come here?”, and all I heard was b*****t, b*****t, b*****t."

After spending some days getting used not only to the humid temperatures of the Australian jungle as well as the frosty interactions he’d encountered with his co-stars, Matt disclosed, "What I’m really looking for is a bit of forgiveness".

Chris Moyles was then spotted privately asking co-star Scarlette Douglas, "Forgiveness for what, Matt? What are you sorry for?".

But Matt’s close friend of over a decade Lempit believes he knows the answer to Chris’ question.

"He wants forgiveness for the professional mistakes he’s made during the pandemic – but you’ve got to remember that he was in uncharted territory."

Lembit adds, "The only people who would have been able to advise him were those in charge during the Great Plague in 1665. He did his best in a really difficult time.

"He sincerely hopes that by going in there and doing a high-profile penance, his kids will see him in a better light.

"I know that means more to him than anything else."


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