LONDON, Nov 6 – A British lawmaker skipped parliament on Tuesday to take part in a reality television show in the Australian jungle, where contestants regularly eat tarantulas and kangaroo testicles.
Nadine Dorries, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, is likely to face questions from constituents and party chiefs alike about her surprise departure.
The 55-year-old has flown to Brisbane in preparation for “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”, in which contestants are forced to endure unpleasant eating contests and physical ordeals.
The programme runs for three weeks from Sunday. Though parliament has next week off, it returns on November 18 and she is due to miss votes in the lower House of Commons.
“I’m doing the show because 16 million people watch it. Rather than MPs talking to other MPs about issues in parliament, I think MPs should be going to where people go,” the Daily Mail newspaper quoted Dorries as saying.
Asked whether she feared a backlash for abandoning her post, she said: “I worked right up until I left the UK for Australia.”
The outspoken lawmaker, who represents Mid Bedfordshire in southeast England, is not a favourite of Cameron’s, having called him and finance minister George Osborne “two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”.
Cameron had to apologise to Dorries last year after describing her as “extremely frustrated” during a parliamentary exchange.
Left-wing firebrand George Galloway is the only serving MP to have taken part in a reality television show.
Six years ago he appeared in “Celebrity Big Brother”, in which he had to do robotics in a lycra outfit and impersonate a cat lapping up imaginary milk.
Dorries will be sleeping under the stars with former soap actors, sportsmen and entertainers. Besides a rumoured appearance fee of £40,000 (50,000 euros, $64,000), the show has also been seen by celebrities as a useful way to boost a flagging public profile.
Now in its 12th series, previous winners include former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s daughter Carol and ex-England cricketer Phil Tufnell.