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    Controversial ex-UK health minister to step down as MP

    LONDON (AFP) – Former United Kingdom (UK) health minister Matt Hancock suspended by the ruling Conservatives for appearing in a reality TV show, said on Wednesday that he will step down as an MP.

    He is the latest member of Rishi Sunak’s beleaguered ruling Tories to announce he will not stand at the next election with the party languishing in the polls.

    Hancock, who was sacked as health minister during the pandemic after he was caught breaking social distancing rules with an aide he was having an affair with, angered many by flying to Australia to appear in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

    He reached the final of the show having endured being stung by a scorpion, sprayed with slime and made to lie in a pit of spiders and cockroaches, but was suspended from the Tory parliamentary party.

    In a letter to Sunak, Hancock wrote, “It has been an honour to serve in Parliament and represent the people of West Suffolk. “I will play my part in the debate about the future of our country and engage with the public in new ways.”

    He also added that the party was due to reinstate him as a Tory MP, “but that is now not necessary”.

    The 44-year-old drew criticism from party colleagues after disappearing from Parliament to be in the show. Over a dozen Tories MPs, including former finance minister Sajid Javid, have said they will not contest their seats at the next election – due before January 2025 at the latest.

    Former leaders Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Liz Truss, however, aim to hold on to theirs.

    Former United Kingdom health minister Matt Hancock. PHOTO: AP
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