The Conservative Party has been tipped to lose a crunch by-election triggered by Nadine Dorries‘ resignation. The former Cabinet minister and staunch loyalist of Boris Johnson announced on Friday she would be standing down “with immediate affect”.
The Liberal Democrats have been warning they could take the Mid-Bedfordshire constituency which Ms Dorries had represented until a few hours ago.
Sir Ed Davey’s party said: “This is a rural seat in the heart of the blue wall. We are in it to win it.”
Ms Dorries and Sir Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, had been tipped for peerages in former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s honours list.
Reports ahead of its publication suggested the Government had cut her from the list at the 11th hour to avoid an early election battle in her seat.
The publication of the list late on Friday confirmed neither Ms Dorries nor Sir Alok were to be elevated to the Lords.
A frequent critic of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak since he took office last autumn, Ms Dorries told TalkTV earlier that the last thing she would want to do would be to cause a by-election in her seat.
Speaking to the broadcaster after the announcement, she admitted that “something significant” happened to change her mind.
She told TalkTV: “The bottom line is really, I’m doing my own show on TalkTV and I write a column in the Daily Mail every Tuesday, which takes a lot more time than I ever thought it would do.
“It’s actually hard work. I’ve been working like seven days a week and I’m also managing these outside jobs as well as my role as an MP.
“And the House of Lords thing was on the cards and it’s gone back to Holac (House of Lords Appointments Commission) for MPs to be vetted or whatever and I just thought, you know, I think this is the time actually for me to stand down.”
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She also appeared to issue a coded warning to Mr Sunak whom many allies of Mr Johnson blame for his downfall.
Ms Dorries said: “A prime minister doesn’t have the ability to change the list of a former prime minister. The list that Boris had was agreed with Rishi and that was done.
“Can you imagine if Rishi suddenly decided ‘I am going to remove somebody from Boris’ list?’ He would be setting a precedent that has never been set before.
“A prime minister doesn’t do that. They’d be a very foolish prime minister who tampered with the list of a former prime minister because he’d end up not getting his own nominations through.”
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Ms Dorries’ immediate resignation will cause a headache for the Prime Minister, forcing him to fight a by-election.
The senior Tory MP won 60 percent of the vote in the Mid Bedfordshire constituency at the 2019 General Election, well ahead of Labour in second place on 22 percent and with a 24,664 vote majority.
Before she was first elected to Parliament as MP for Mid Bedfordshire in 2005, she worked for three years as an adviser to the former Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin.
She was thrust into the limelight in 2012 when she was suspended from the Conservative Party for appearing on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! without informing the chief whip first. She was readmitted to the party in May 2013.
Her first ministerial appointment was as Minister of State for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, during which she garnered criticism for rejecting cross-party talks to discuss a package of mental health support for frontline workers during the pandemic.
Ms Dorries was promoted to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in September 2021.
In her time in the role she was a frequent advocate for BBC reform and led the now-ditched plan to privatise Channel 4.
Despite backing Liz Truss in the race for leadership following Mr Johnson’s resignation, Ms Dorries decided not to continue as Culture Secretary when Ms Truss took over as prime minister.
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