‘Absentee MP’ Nadine Dorries faces move to force her out


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A campaign to force “absentee MP” Nadine Dorries to attend parliament or face a by-election this autumn is being spearheaded by the chair of the Commons standards committee.

Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant told the Financial Times that he wanted to see the restoration of a parliamentary rule from 1801 stating that “no member do presume to go out of town without leave of this House”, in an effort to force Dorries to follow through on her vow to resign.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire and former culture secretary has angered opposition MPs and some fellow Tories by remaining in post since she announced on June 9 that she would step down “with immediate effect” in protest at not being given a peerage in former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

Dorries — whose claim that Rishi Sunak’s administration blocked her nomination “to punish Boris” has been denied by Downing Street — insists she is delaying her exit from the Commons while she seeks more information about the process regarding her peerage nomination.

However, detractors say Dorries was not fully involved in the business of parliament long before promising to quit. According to House of Commons records, she has not spoken in the Commons since July last year or worked on either a select committee or bill committee.

The records also show that Dorries has voted on legislation on only four days in the past year, most recently in April. There are no sanctions for MPs, who earn a basic salary of £86,580, for not participating in the Commons.

Criticising Dorries as an “absentee MP”, Bryant said that when MPs returned to parliament in September it would be “perfectly legitimate . . . to table a motion saying the member for Mid Bedfordshire — and, for that matter, anybody else who hasn’t turned up for six months — must attend by such-and-such a date or will be suspended from the House for 10 sitting days or more”.

The proposal, which Bryant said he had presented to government and Labour whips, is detailed in his new book, Code of Conduct: Why We Need to Fix Parliament — and How to Do It.

In it he explained the rule: “If the House nominated you, you had to attend. Thus when William Smith O’Brien refused to serve on a railway committee in 1846, the House had him detained overnight in the Clock Tower cell.”

A 10-day Commons suspension would trigger a recall petition, giving Dorries’ local constituents the chance to vote for a by-election. Bryant acknowledged his move could become “completely unnecessary” if Dorries chose to resign and provoke a by-election herself.

Asked this week if Dorries was failing her constituents, the prime minister told LBC: “I think people deserve to have an MP that represents them, wherever they are.” Sunak added: “At the moment people aren’t being properly represented.”

Last month, Flitwick town council in Mid Bedfordshire expressed its “concerns and frustration with the situation” and urged Dorries to “immediately vacate” the seat.

In an open letter, the council accused Dorries of focusing on her chat show on TV network TalkTV, forthcoming book and “political manoeuvres to embarrass the government for not appointing you to the House of Lords”, rather than representing constituents.

Noting that Dorries had not spoken in the Commons since July 2022, it added that she had failed to hold a surgery in the town since March 2020 and had not maintained a constituency office “for a considerable time”.

Dorries was contacted for comment.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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