Where's Nadine Dorries? Why former minister is facing calls to quit as MP

Nadine Dorries gives a speech during the Conservative Democratic Organisation conference at Bournemouth International Centre. Picture date: Saturday May 13, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Nadine Dorries speaks at the Conservative Democratic Organisation conference in Bournemouth in May. (PA Images via Getty Images)

MPs will try to oust Nadine Dorries as an MP next month amid growing calls for her to follow through on her vow to resign.

The Liberal Democrats, whose leader Sir Ed Davey called Dorries a "dosser" earlier this week, will table a bill when Parliament returns on 4 September that they hope will result in her suspension.

The former cabinet minister announced in June she was resigning with “immediate effect” after she failed to receive a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

But the Tory Mid Bedfordshire MP is yet to stand down formally, claiming she is investigating why she was refused a seat in the Lords having said, with a nod to her political enemy Rishi Sunak, "sinister forces" were responsible.

Dorries - who in response to criticism has said she is "working daily with constituents" - has not spoken in the House of Commons for more than a year and last voted in April. Away from Westminster, meanwhile, constituents have claimed she has gone AWOL.

Radio station LBC even paid for a "wanted" poster in her local paper last week, and sent a reporter to wander around Flitwick in a fruitless attempt to try and find her.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper will now lay down a motion demanding Dorries returns to the Commons by 14 September or face a 10-day suspension. If MPs approve it, a recall petition will be triggered in Dorries’ seat. This would pave the way for a by-election if more than 10% of constituents sign it.

Cooper said: “For months Nadine Dorries has treated the people of Mid Bedfordshire with contempt and taken them for granted.

“As thousands of people struggle to get a GP appointment and face steep hikes to their mortgages, Nadine Dorries continues to be missing in action. What’s worse is that the Conservatives just don’t seem to care that they’re letting people down.

“We need an end to this sorry saga, once and for all. Nadine Dorries must resign. If not then this government must do the right thing and force her to. Every day that Rishi Sunak sits on his hands the people across Mid Bedfordshire are being failed.”

Prime minister Sunak said at the beginning of the month that Dorries’ constituents are not being properly represented.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Nadine Dorries attends The TRIC Awards 2023 at Grosvenor House on June 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Nadine Dorries attends The TRIC Awards 2023 in London in June. (Getty Images)

However, although a number of Tory MPs have since spoken out against her, she retains the Conservative whip.

In a statement to the News Agents podcast earlier this week, Dorries said: “Myself and my team of four caseworkers are working daily with constituents.

“I understand that political opponents, such as Labour-run Flitwick Town Council [which called for her to go], are choosing the summer and news hungry outlets in the summer recess to be noticed. However, we are just getting on with the work.”

Dorries, while remaining in her role as MP, is hosting a weekly chat show on Talk TV and has written a book about Johnson, her staunch ally, titled "The Plot: The Political Assassination Of Boris Johnson". It will be published next month, just days before the Conservative Party conference.

Carrie Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Rachel Johnson watch as outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, before leaving for Balmoral for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II to formally resign as Prime Minister. Picture date: Tuesday September 6, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Nadine Dorries (front, third left) watches Boris Johnson's final speech as prime minister in September last year. (PA Images via Getty Images)

The Mid Bedfordshire seat has been held by Dorries since 2005 and the Conservatives since 1931.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats had been hopeful of snatching the seat in a by-election... but that has not been possible.

Earlier this month, a Labour MP who is calling for major reform in Parliament questioned why Dorries can still receive her £86,584 salary having been absent from the Commons so long.

Chris Bryant said: "I just don’t think in an ordinary line of work, if you missed coming in for six months, that you’d still be paid.

Watch: Rishi Sunak urged to sack ‘dosser’ Nadine Dorries as Tory MP

Read more: ‘As useful as a chocolate teapot’: voters’ verdict on awol Nadine Dorries

“If you’re a councillor, incidentally, and you don’t turn up for anything, not a vote or anything like that, for six months, you’re out.”

As reported by Yahoo News earlier this year, Dorries hasn't addressed members on the Commons floor since 7 July, 2022, back when she was secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

She hasn't voted in the Commons since 26 April - voting against a proposed amendment to Illegal Migration Bill - with the chamber's last vote held on 18 July. It is not clear if these votes were made in person or by proxy.