Nadine Dorries and the constituents who ‘haven’t seen their MP in years’


Nadine Dorries and the constituents who 'haven't seen their MP in years'

In the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire, most people have an opinion about their apparently AWOL MP Nadine Dorries.

“She’s an acquired taste,” says a man with a grin and a snort as he trots off through Ampthill’s weekly market.

The former culture secretary announced she was resigning “with immediate effect” in June after missing out on a peerage in her ally Boris Johnson’s honours list.

But she still hasn’t formally quit – meaning a by-election can’t take place.

“I’ve not seen her for years, but I sell her novels,” said the owner of the Ampthill market bookstand – a nod to Ms Dorries’ parallel career as a writer.

Another man says the MP used to be more present and had met her on a couple of occasions “usually when she was standing outside Waitrose”.

Nadine Dorries and the constituents who 'haven't seen their MP in years'

This is not the first time Nadine Dorries has ruffled feathers in her patch.

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Back in 2013, thousands of her constituents signed a petition calling for a by-election after she turned up in the Australian jungle as part of the TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

That still grates for some locals.

“She can stay in the jungle because that’s just how much good she is for us … to be honest I’ve never seen the woman,” says one lady back in Ampthill.

In nearby Flitwick, three homemade posters hung near the train station proclaim “dosser Dorries out” and “£86k a year, but she’s never here!” – a reference to the salary paid to MPs.

Nadine Dorries and the constituents who 'haven't seen their MP in years'

Sky News received no reply when we visited two addresses registered to Ms Dorries in Worcestershire and the Cotswolds.

Text messages have gone unanswered and a phone call rang out, with the dial tone suggesting the handset was abroad.

We were also unable to locate her listed constituency office in Shefford.

Nadine Dorries and the constituents who 'haven't seen their MP in years'

The mayor of Flitwick has suggested the MP hasn’t held a surgery in the area for more than three years and has called for her to stand down.

The independent council leader for Central Bedfordshire told Sky News her new TV show and upcoming book about Boris Johnson were relevant.

“I suspect people feel what she’s doing is trying to orientate her personal life towards when she finally resigns … that’s really frustrating for people because it should be about the residents,” said Cllr Adam Zerny.

Parliamentary records show Nadine Dorries hasn’t spoken in the Commons since last July and hasn’t voted since April.

She is also still listed as employing her daughter as a paid assistant.

But despite local anger, there’s little constituents can do to force a resignation.

A recall petition – which could trigger a by-election – can only happen in very specific circumstances, such as a criminal conviction or lengthy Commons suspension.

There has been some criticism from Downing Street though.

Rishi Sunak has said voters in Bedfordshire are “not being properly represented”.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk echoed that this week, saying: “Constituents will want to have that proper representation at the earliest opportunity.”

Senior Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant has suggested an obscure Commons rule from 1801 could be revived to try and force out the Bedfordshire MP.

“We should say, listen, if you’re drawing a salary as an MP and you’re claiming expenses to employ staff and run your office and all the rest of it, the least you can do is turn up to Parliament,” Sir Chris told Sky News.

Nadine Dorries and the constituents who 'haven't seen their MP in years'

Nadine Dorries has previously suggested she is waiting for more details around why she didn’t receive a peerage before she formally steps down.

Others speculate she is trying to inflict political damage on the prime minister by attempting to trigger a by-election during conference season.

Back in Ampthill, she does still have her supporters though.

One man said she had been “treated really badly” by Rishi Sunak and had been an “excellent MP”, before adding with a wry smile: “When she is in parliament.”


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