It has been more than two months since Nadine Dorries announced that she was resigning with “immediate effect” as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire. Since then she’s behaved like she’s no longer an MP, but she hasn’t actually quit.
It has been more than two months since Nadine Dorries announced that she was resigning from the Commons with “immediate effect”, but she still hasn’t stood down.
On the morning of June 9th the former culture secretary appeared on TalkTV – where she hosts a Friday night show – to deny rumours that she was quitting.
Then later the same day, Dorries told the same channel that “something significant” had persuaded her to quit.
In the intervening hours, it had been reported that Dorries, and some of her Commons colleagues, had not made it onto Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, despite suggestions that she was in line for a peerage.
In one of her many interventions in the days that followed, Dorries – a former nurse who grew up on a council estate – told TalkTV that she had been blocked by “two privileged posh boys” – an allusion to Sunak and his political secretary James Forsyth.
She later revealed she’d submitted a subject access request and vowed to stay on as an MP until she’d received all unredacted “WhatsApps, text messages, all emails and minutes of meetings” related to why she was denied a peerage.
Information relating to honours is exempt from such requests, but neither that – nor the prime minister’s repeated denials of any involvement – have deterred Dorries.
She vowed to remain as an MP until she gets an answer, but hasn’t spoken in the House of Commons for more than a year, prompting Flitwick Town Council to write an open letter of complaint.
Calling on her to “immediately vacate” her seat it accused Dorries of focussing on her “television show, upcoming book and political manoeuvres to embarrass the government for not appointing you to the House of Lords”.
Campaign group Unlock Democracy also complained to the Standards Commissioner that Dorries was undermining parliament by her prolonged absence.
But the Standards Commissioner ruled that “there is no specific ‘service standard’ or exact job description for MPs, or a minimum number of hours of attendance required by the House.”
A petition calling for her to quit has received 75,000 signatures, but has no power to force a change.
As things stand there isn’t anything that allows constituents to trigger a by-election if they think their MP is failing to represent them. All they can do is make their feelings known by not voting for them at the next election.
Today’s episode was written by Cat Neilan and mixed by Tom Kinsella.