Britain's former health secretary Matt Hancock has said he is joining the I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here! contestants to "go to where the people are - not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster".

The politician, who was suspended from the Conservative Party after signing up for the show, told reporters: "I haven't lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It's something I've given a lot of thought to."

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

The 44-year-old, who is dyslexic, said he wants to use the "incredible platform" to raise awareness of dyslexia and insisted it "wasn't the cheque" that made him decide to join the show.

He said he turned down the programme "twice this summer" but had a "change of heart" after being asked for a third time last week.

The Suffolk MP has faced criticism from other politicians, as he will still be on his £84,144 (€85,000) politician's salary in the jungle, with one colleague, Tim Loughton, calling him an "absolute prat" for taking part.

Former British Labour Party minister Ed Balls, who took part in Strictly Come Dancing after leaving politics, said: "Personally, I think good luck to him. But I think he is totally crackers to do this.

"And if he gets the tokens and brings in the food, then he'll be popular. But, you know, I mean, to eat an ostrich anus, live on television, while still a sitting MP and then ask the public, 'Do you want to see me do it again?'"

In Mr Hancock's constituency, the West Suffolk Conservative Association said it was "disappointed" and accused him of a "serious error of judgement".

"MPs should be working hard for their constituents, particularly when we have a cost of living crisis and people are facing hardship," the group added.

Mr Hancock told The Sun newspaper, it is "a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren't always interested in politics".

He claimed reality TV is an "honest and unfiltered" way to communicate with voters.

"It's our job as politicians to go to where the people are - not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster," he said.

"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."

The backbencher said it was not the money that changed his mind, saying he will make "a donation" to St Nicholas Hospice Care in Suffolk, but he did not say he will give up the full amount.

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here! starts on Virgin Media One and ITV on Sunday 6 November.

Source: Press Association