Suspended MP Nadine Dorries defended her decision to star on I’m a Celebrity – by likening her trip to a ministerial visit.
The mother-of-three is the subject of a parliamentary standards probe after jetting to Australia to become the first serving MP to appear on the show.
But the Tory politician has now hit back at claims she is abandoning her constituents by saying her camping trip is no different to ministers official trips abroad.
The Mid Bedfordshire MP said her trip was no different to those of her neighbouring MP Alistair Burt – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
She argued that the North East Bedfordshire MP Mr Burt spent “20 weeks” of the year abroad, while she had never had one.
Her comments emerged as she was pictured sunning herself by the pool in a bikini, during a pre-show stay at a luxury hotel.
Nadine said: “Alistair Burt is a very hard-working constituency MP, but in his ministerial role he has had 20 weeks abroad this year.
“Most MPs take parliamentary trips during the year and in seven years I have never taken one.
“I have taken three trips, two to Israel and the Middle East for briefings, and one to Equatorial Guinea to see how children there live, but those were taken during holiday time.
“Most of the year I work seven days a week.
“Would they say that to Alistair Burt when he goes abroad each week?
“Being a minister and an MP is two jobs and he does them both very well.
“But do they say when he is in Qatar for weeks that he is neglecting his constituency?”
Nadine has claimed she agreed to appear on I’m a Celebrity to “connect” with the electorate she believes politicians are losing touch with.
She has argued the light-hearted show is a platform to promote Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister – and to reduce the abortion limit to 20 weeks.
She also believes the program – famed for its scenes of scantily-clad celebrities – will give her the chance to persuade viewers lap dancing clubs should be banned.
Oddly, the MP believes she will be the first to be voted off by the public – giving her just one week to apply her theory of celebrity politics.
She added: “I am expecting to be the first out because everyone hates politicians.
“We are a lightning rod for hatred and there’s going to be lots of lovely celebrities that everyone knows in there.
“Politics has changed because of the internet and social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the way politicians interact with people has to change too.
“We live as politicians in a celebrity culture and we have to embrace that.
“You can sneer at it if you want but if you do you are sneering at 16 million people who watch it and embrace it.
“I’ve got three young adult daughters, and being a mum I don’t see relating to young people as being an issue; it will just be like going from home to home.
“One of the difficult things for me would be camping with anyone who displays prejudices or misogynistic or chauvinistic behaviour.
“But I’m going to have to learn how to deal with it because I will have to live with them.”
She added: “I can use I’m A Celebrity as a platform to talk about 20 weeks and Boris to 16 million people.
“I think the subject of lap dancing clubs and the erosion of society might just be one of those campfire subjects too.
“However we are filmed for 24 hours a day and they will only take a minute or two of what we’ve said.
“Because I campaign on 20 weeks, so much of what I do is distorted by the extreme zealots online and on the internet, and I see this as a good way of bursting through that too.
“I’ve no idea how people are going to react because you can’t prejudge things, but I know most of my constituents in Mid Bedfordshire will be reasonable and level-headed about it.
“Mid Bedfordshire people are very down to earth, reasonable people and that’s why I love being an MP in this constituency.
“We have very few problems and most people are just hard-working and decent.
“The people of Mid Bedfordshire know that their MP isn’t just a pinstripe suit with two kids. And I think they quite enjoy it as well.”
Nadine, Mid Bedfordshire MP since 2005, could earn up to £40,000 from her appearance.
She is set to enter the jungle along with 12 other celebrities as part of a launch show which airs on Sunday night.
Meanwhile she faces an investigation by parliament’s standards watchdog, after a formal complaint was made against her for jetting to Australia.
The code of conduct for MPs states they must act with “probity and integrity” at all times and put their duties to constituents first.
But after pictures of her emerged sunbathing by a pool – suggesting she may not be hard at work – a complaint was lodged.
The Tory party suspended Ms Dorries following an emergency meeting called on Tuesday night.
Conservative MP Alistair Burt broke his silence to respond to claims from Nadine Dorries that her time in the jungle was like his ministerial visits.
Speaking via email between meetings in Brussels, Mr Burt strongly criticised Nadine’s comments.
He said: “I am surprised that Nadine believes there is some similarity between me being abroad on behalf of the British people, including my constituents, and her taking part in a TV show in the jungle.
“Whilst I am abroad I am in regular contact with my Westminster and Biggleswade office via email and telephone, as this comment from Brussels shows.
“I understand that is not possible from the Australian jungle under the TV show rules.
“I had not previously commented on Nadine’s business. I hope she no longer feels obliged to comment on mine.”