Nadine Dorries has finally bowed to pressure from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and her own party and quit as an MP. The former culture secretary has announced – through an interview with the Mail on Sunday – that she will today inform the Chancellor of her intention to take the Chiltern Hundreds, the formal process for quitting, therefore enabling the writ to be moved on September 4th when parliament returns. This means Rishi Sunak faces a potentially bruising by-election test in the autumn as he attempts to shake-up his premiership ahead of an election year.
When Dorries first announced that she planned to quit – over a row about her missing peerage – she gave various reasons for holding off on formally resigning. One was a subject access request – which she says she has now completed but is unable to share the results of. But ‘friends of Dorries’ also briefed that she didn’t want to let Sunak pick a date for the by-election that suited him. Instead, it was suggested that it would likely be more painful for the Tories to drag it out and have a by-election hanging over them until the autumn.
Dorries’s statement certainly makes clear that she doesn’t want to make life easy for Sunak. The Boris Johnson loyalist argues that ‘since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie parliament where nothing meaningful has happened’. She goes on: ‘you have no mandate from the people and the government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?’ She also attacks Sunak’s record in government ‘taking us to the level of the highest tax take since world war two at 75 per cent of GDP’ and says he has ‘completely failed in reducing illegal immigration or delivering on the benefits of Brexit’.