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Nadine Dorries could prolong Sunak’s by-election challenge with ‘unusual’ delay

The Prime Minister would welcome ‘certainty’ for her Mid Bedfordshire constituents as the Tory MP holds out on handing in her notice.

Downing Street has expressed bewilderment at Nadine Dorries’ delay in formally resigning as an MP in a move that could prolong the by-election struggle for Rishi Sunak.

The former culture secretary announced she would quit her Mid Bedfordshire seat after being denied the peerage requested by Boris Johnson as Tory infighting raged in public.

On Wednesday the Conservatives triggered the by-elections in the former prime minister’s seat and in that of his ally Nigel Adams after they resigned in writing.

But Ms Dorries is yet to do so, and with the countdown ticking for voters going to the polls the delay may mean the three by-elections have to take place over two separate days.

The move could prolong the pain for the Prime Minister as he faces a battle to defend three Conservative seats at a time of dire polling as he publicly scraps with Mr Johnson.

Asked if there is frustration over the delay, Mr Sunak’s press secretary said: “It’s obviously unusual to have an MP say they will resign with immediate effect and for that not to take place.

“The Prime Minister believes the people of Mid Bedfordshire deserve proper representation in this house and he looks forward to campaigning for the Conservative candidate in the by-election.”

Simon Hart
Tory Chief Whip Simon Hart (Yui Mok/PA)

Pressed if that means her constituents are not currently being served properly, the spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister believes that it’s important that they have certainty.”

Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart has moved a motion known as a “writ” for by-elections in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency and Mr Adams’ Selby and Ainsty seat.

That means there are between 21 and 27 working days for the votes to be held.

But the third by-election was on hold as official notice from Ms Dorries was outstanding despite saying she would quit on Friday.

She claimed “sinister forces” had denied her a seat in the House of Lords as requested in Mr Johnson’s honours list.

The Conservatives were expected to confirm the date for the two confirmed by-elections later on Wednesday.

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