UK's Rishi Sunak faces by-election test as Nadine Dorries resigns

Former culture minister says Conservative MPs face an 'electoral tsunami' in her resignation letter

Nadine Dorries outside 10 Downing Street. Her resignation was announced 78 days earlier when she said she would step down with “immediate effect”. AP
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Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries has launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in her resignation letter.

Ms Dorries said Conservative MPs face an “electoral tsunami” at the next election as he runs a “zombie Parliament where nothing meaningful has happened”.

She accused the prime minister of “demeaning his office by opening the gates to whip up a public frenzy” against her.

In her resignation letter published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, she said that Rishi Sunak has abandoned “the fundamental principles of Conservatism” and “history will not judge you kindly”.

There was no immediate reaction from Downing Street.

“Your actions have left some 200 or more of my MP colleagues to face an electoral tsunami and the loss of their livelihoods because, in your impatience to become prime minister, you put your personal ambition above the stability of the country and our economy,” she wrote.

“Bewildered, we look in vain for the grand political vision for the people of this great country to hold on to, that would make all this disruption and subsequent inertia worthwhile, and we find absolutely nothing.”

She added: “Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie Parliament where nothing meaningful has happened.”

Her resignation was announced 78 days earlier when she said she would step down with “immediate effect”.

The resignation means there will now be a by-election for her Mid Bedfordshire seat, where she has a 24,664-strong majority.

Mr Sunak’s ruling party is behind Labour in opinion polls and has been doing poorly in by-elections.

The Conservatives lost two of three by-elections in July. The one win was in a seat where Boris Johnson was the retiring MP. His 7,210 majority was slashed to just 496 votes.

“It is a fact that there is no affection for [Labour leader] Keir Starmer out on the doorstep,” Ms Dorries wrote.

“He does not have the winning X factor qualities of a Thatcher, a Blair, or a Boris Johnson, and sadly, prime minister, neither do you.”

She accused Mr Sunak of leading attacks on her, resulting in “the police having to visit my home and contact me on a number of occasions due to threats to my person”.

Ms Dorries was born in 1957 in Liverpool and started her working life as a nurse. She pursued a career in business, opened a child day care and became a director at Bupa. Her career as a writer has seen her author more than 10 books.

Before her election 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.

Her first ministerial appointment was as minister of state for patient safety, suicide prevention and mental health. She was made secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport in September 2021.

Updated: August 27, 2023, 4:21 AM