Dorries says she was ‘bullied’ by No 10 and accuses Sunak of blocking peerage

The former culture secretary and Boris Johnson loyalist denied ‘knifing the party’ by triggering a by-election in her Mid Bedfordshire seat.

Nadine Dorries has claimed she resigned as an MP after being “bullied” by No 10 as she accused Rishi Sunak of “duplicitously and cruelly” blocking her from getting a peerage.

The former culture secretary and Boris Johnson loyalist denied “knifing the party” by triggering a by-election in her Mid Bedfordshire seat when she stood down on Friday.

Ms Dorries was among the names of sitting MPs lacking from the list, along with Sir Alok Sharma – who was Cop26 president, and former minister Nigel Adams.

She used an interview with TalkTV to launch a fresh attack on the Prime Minister, claiming he used “weasel words2 and “sophistry” in a meeting with Mr Johnson last week which left the outgoing MP believing she would be included.

Ms Dorries sought to divide the row along class lines, branding Mr Sunak and James Forsyth – his political aide – “privileged posh boys” who stopped her being offered a seat in the Lords.

“I’m broken-hearted, not just for me but for everyone who comes from a background like mine,” she said.

Mr Johnson’s own background is not a fair comparison because he attended Eton on a scholarship and has “no money”, she claimed.

Asked to explain her understanding of what had happened, she said the House of Lords appointment commission (Holac) had told No 10 she would need to announce her departure as an MP in order to enter the Lords.

She said she was aware of this rule, but that she had been urged “via back channels” not to prompt a by-election so held off.

A plan was devised by the Cabinet Secretary whereby she would stay on the list until a general election, but “we found out that suddenly that wasn’t allowed”, Ms Dorries claimed.

Detailing the chain of events on Friday, the former minister said she only learned that her name was not on the list half an hour before it was published.

The Chief Whip spoke to her in the morning to say “everything’s fine” before contacting her hours later to reveal she was not included, she said.

On the reason behind her shock resignation, she said: “It was the sheer audacity of the Chief Whip thinking that at my age having worked in Parliament for 21 years, serving 18 years on the back benches, having been a minister during Covid… having been a secretary of state, that he can dangle out to me some kind of stick and carrot, like ‘be a good girl and we’ll make sure something’s sorted for you in the future’, which is basically what he was saying to me. That for me, and that moment, was what made me change my mind.

“I think you come to a point in life when you have to stop, when you can’t just be pushed around, when you can’t allow people to bully you, as I’ve just been bullied by No 10. You can’t allow that to happen, you have to stand up for yourself, and that’s what I did.”

Referring to Mr Sunak and Mr Forsyth, she added: “This story is about a girl from Liverpool… who had something that was offered to her… removed by two privileged posh boys.”

Ms Dorries said she was “100%” sure that her former boss had not decided to axe her from the list himself.

It comes amid an escalating war of words between Mr Johnson and the Prime Minister.

The former prime minister accused Mr Sunak of “talking rubbish” for claiming his predecessor asked him to overrule the vetting committee to push through his House of Lords nominations.

“To honour these peerages it was not necessary to overrule Holac – but simply to ask them to renew their vetting, which was a mere formality,” Mr Johnson said.

One Downing Street source said the Cabinet Office had made it clear to Mr Johnson that there is no re-vetting process, while the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it is “entirely untrue to say that anyone from No 10 attempted to remove or change” to Holac-approved list.

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