West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has attempted to explain why he's taking part in the ITV show "I'm a Celebrity" - as opposition to his planned appearance continues to grow.

He told The Sun newspaper that he "hadn't lost his marbles" by signing up to go into the Australian jungle for the show.

But that hasn't stopped a torrent of criticism from MPs, constituents and families affected by Covid over the last two years.

Mr Hancock wrote in The Sun: “It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are — not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster.

“There are many ways to do the job of being an MP. Whether I’m in camp for one day or three weeks, there are very few places people will be able to see a politician as they really are.

“So, the truth is, I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to.”

But this has not gone down well in his constituency. Local Conservative councillor Lance Stanbury said: "If one wants to engage with one's constituents the best way, I feel, is to do it on the doorstep or contact people by letter or going to public meetings.

Ipswich Star:

"That's the best way, rather than going on a TV show which has got nothing to do with local issues whatsoever."

Other local Conservatives have called on Mr Hancock to consider his position as an MP.

Mr Hancock's decision to take a fee to appear on the programme could be investigated because it comes less than two years after he stood down as Health Secretary after being filmed embracing a colleague.

An online petition to stop Mr Hancock from appearing on the show has already more than 18,000 signatures.

Lobby Akinnola, from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign who started the petition, said: “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.

“The fact that he is trying to cash in on his terrible legacy, rather than showing some humility or seeking to reflect on the appalling consequences of his time in Government, says it all about the sort of person he is.”