9 JUNE 2023 | NEWS
Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has today announced her intention to stand down as an MP with immediate effect. She had previously announced in February that she intended to remain an MP until the next General Election, but would not stand as a candidate then.
The announcement came just ahead of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Resignation Honours List, which has just been published this evening. Ms Dorries had been widely expected to receive a damehood or a peerage, but her name was not mentioned on the list.
It is standard practice for an outgoing Prime Minister to award honours of various natures to a list of people – often considered to be their most staunch allies or confidants – though there is often a significant delay after they leave office.
Ms Dorries – a prominent ally of Mr Johnson – had publicly said that it was “very rare” for someone of her “background” to receive a peerage, referring to her upbringing in poverty. Earlier today, she told TalkTV that she was “slightly disappointed”, but that she did not “think it was to be”.
She added: “The last thing I would want to do is cause a by-election in my constituency,” adding: “I don’t think I will be going into the House of Lords any time soon.”
But this is now what will happen, although a timetable for such a by-election has not yet been announced. Her present majority is 24,664, so her constituency in Mid-Bedfordshire is considered a safe Conservative seat. Ms Dorries has served as its MP since 2005.
However, polling from Savanta late last year showed that there could be a sufficient swing towards Labour for the party to take that seat if a by-election were to be held:
Further to this, Wolves understands that there is speculation in Westminster – as well as separately amongst Conservative Party members in support of Mr Johnson’s potential return as Prime Minister – that Ms Dorries may be standing down so as to cause incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to lose a safe Tory seat in the up-coming by-election.
Such a move could potentially rally Tory MPs against their party leader. However, there is nothing to substantiate this theory at the time of publication.
Ms Dorries has further stated that “something significant did happen to change my mind”, but she was unwilling to give any further details to the press.
However, she did add that she had felt some “relief” over her decision, commenting further: “I think I’ve been carrying a degree of guilt since I stood down as Secretary of State. I think I possibly, maybe I should have stood down [as an MP] then.”
She added that she now had “other priorities”, including her granddaughter and her media career as a presenter on TalkTV. She is also a columnist for The Daily Mail.
She further said on air: “The House of Lords thing was on the cards and it’s gone back to HOLAC [the House of Lords Appointments Commission] to be vetted.” However, it would appear that her name was not ultimately selected.
Ms Dorries was formerly the Secretary of State for Culture, having been appointed as such by Mr Johnson in September 2021, leaving the Cabinet when he stepped down. Prior to this, she had been a Minister in the Department for Health and Social Care, to which Mr Johnson appointed her when he became Prime Minister in July 2019.
When making her initial announcement to stand down at the next election in February, Ms Dorries was critical of “the lack of cohesion, the infighting and occasionally the sheer stupidity from those who think we could remove a sitting Prime Minister”.
She added: “I’m afraid it’s this behaviour that I now just have to remove myself from.”
Other prominent Tory figures who did receive honours included knighthoods for Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Fabricant and damehoods for Conservative MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Priti Patel (a former Home Secretary under Mr Johnson).
Peerages were also awarded to Ben Houchen, the Mayor of Tees Valley since 2017, and Shaun Bailey, the unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Mayor of London in 2021.
Kelly Jo Dodge, described as a “long-time Parliamentary hairdresser”, was among those to receive the honour of an OBE. She was joined by several other Parliamentary Secretaries and other advisers.
Mr Johnson’s full Resignation Honours List can be read here:651839549-Resignation-Honours-2023