Im a Celebs Matt Hancock wants his children to see him in a better light, says pal

Matt Hancock’s decision to enter the I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! jungle has been one of the most talked about celebrity signings on the show’s in history.

After breaking his own Covid rules when CCTV footage was leaked of his affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo back in 2021, Matt resigned as Health Secretary and, when it was announced he would be on the show, he was then suspended from the Conservative Party.

But Matt’s politician pal and I’m A Celeb 2010 alum Lembit Öpik has defended the 44-year-old’s stint on the show. “Matt is the most unpopular person in Britain right now so there can only be two outcomes,” Lembit, 57, exclusively tells OK! . “He’ll either maintain this role or he’ll redeem himself.”

But just a few days in, Matt – who shares two sons and a daughter with his ex-wife Martha – told his campmates, “What I’m really looking for is a bit of forgiveness.”

Here, Lembit discusses the real reasons for Matt’s latest adventure, his relationship with Gina and his future in politics…

What do you make of Matt’s decision to take part in I’m A Celebrity… this year?

I was really pleased – I was probably the only person in Britain to say he was perfectly entitled to enter the jungle. Matt is the most unpopular person in Britain right now so there are two outcomes – he’ll either maintain this role or he’ll redeem himself. What does he have to lose?

Matt said that he wants forgiveness, what do you think he meant by that?

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. 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.

What did you make of the backlash he received for leaving his constituents?

At this point, whatever Matt does or doesn’t do for his constituents, he’ll get in trouble for. People have accused him of neglecting his duty, but I can’t see it like that. His personal life was turned upside-down due to decisions that he made in his professional life. He’s been the subject of this perpetual, continuous condemnation inside and outside of his party since he left his job.

Is the side to him that viewers are seeing what he’s really like?

Definitely. He’s being absolutely genuine and I’m really proud to call him my friend. Like many other people, I lost friends to Covid, but I don’t see the need of joining the barricade against Matt Hancock personally. He’s admitted he has to own the mistake of breaking the rule he was promoting.

Do you think he’s doing himself any favours by mentioning Gina?

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

Was it hard to hear the negative things the campmates said about him?

I don’t find the attacks hard to hear – Matt is smart enough to know they will be happening behind his back. He’s had to walk down streets being shouted at, he’s watched satirical TV shows ridiculing him and read miles of columns. He’s hoping his actions will speak louder than their words.

Do you think he could win?

I didn’t think so initially. I predicted the public would keep him in for a bit just to punish him and then desert him. 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.


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