Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has launched a scathing attack on prime minister Rishi Sunak in her resignation letter, saying he runs a “zombie parliament” where “nothing meaningful has happened” in the year since he took office.
The no-holds-barred letter sees Dorries take aim at Sunak’s record as prime minister and directly accuse him of “demeaning his office by opening the gates to whip up a public frenzy” against her.
The Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire declared back in June that she would be stepping down with “immediate effect” after she failed to receive a peerage from former PM Boris Johnson in his resignation honours list.
However, it took until Saturday (26 August) for the former culture secretary to officially resign.
Dorries had been facing increased pressure to act on her promise to step down as she has not spoken in the House of Commons since June 2022, despite still receiving the £86,584 MPs get for representing the views and interests of their constituents in parliament.
In the letter, which was published exclusively in the Mail on Sunday, the former nurse-turned-politician wrote critically of Sunak’s time in charge.
“Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie parliament where nothing meaningful has happened,” she wrote. “What exactly has been done or have you achieved?
“You hold the office of prime minister unelected, without a single vote, not even from your own MPs.
“You have no mandate from the people and the government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?”
Dorries went on to say that she feels there is “no affection” for Labour leader Keir Starmer out on the doorsteps because he does not have “the winning X factor qualities” but, she continued, “Prime minister, neither do you”.
The letter sees Sunak and allies accused of establishing a “modus operandi” that resulted in “clearly orchestrated and almost daily personal attacks” targetting first Johnson, then his short-lived successor Liz Truss, and finally Dorries herself.
Finishing off her blistering attack, she claimed Sunak has “abandoned the fundamental principles of Conservatism” and “history will not judge you kindly”.
During her stint as culture secretary, Dorries devoted significant attention to trans athletes’ participation in sports, and calling on representatives from football, cricket, rugby, tennis and athletics to limit women’s sports to “people born of the female sex”.
In 2022, she also announced Tory plans to privatise Channel 4 – home of groundbreaking queer TV offerings like It’s a Sin, Queer as Folk and Sugar Rush – which were formally abandoned in January this year.
Nadine Dorries resignation letter in full
Dear Prime Minister,
It has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life to have served the good people of Mid Bedfordshire as their MP for eighteen years and I count myself blessed to have worked in Westminster for almost a quarter of a century. Despite what some in the media and you yourself have implied, my team of caseworkers and I have continued to work for my constituents faithfully and diligently to this day.
When I arrived in Mid Bedfordshire in 2005, I inherited a Conservative majority of 8,000. Over five elections this has increased to almost 25,000, making it one of the safest seats in the country. A legacy I am proud of.
During my time as a Member of Parliament, I have served as a back bencher, a bill Committee Chair, a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State before becoming Minister of State in the Department of Health and Social Care during the Covid crisis, after which I was appointed as Secretary of State at the department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. The offer to continue in my Cabinet role was extended to me by your predecessor, Liz Truss, and I am grateful for your personal phone call on the morning you appointed your cabinet in October, even if I declined to take the call.
As politicians, one of the greatest things we can do is to empower people to have opportunities to achieve their aspirations and to help them to change their lives for the better. In DHSC I championed meaningful improvements to maternity and neonatal safety. I launched the women’s health strategy and pushed forward a national evidence-based trial for Group B Strep testing in pregnant women with the aim to reduce infant deaths. When I resigned as Secretary of State for DCMS I was able to thank the professional, dedicated, and hard-working civil servants for making our department the highest performing in Whitehall. We worked tirelessly to strengthen the Online Safety Bill to protect young people, froze the BBC licence fee, included the sale of Channel 4 into the Media Bill to protect its long-term future and led the world in imposing cultural sanctions when Putin invaded Ukraine.
I worked with and encouraged the tech sector, to search out untaught talents such as creative and critical thinking in deprived communities offering those who faced a life on low unskilled pay or benefits, access to higher paid employment and social mobility. What many of the CEOs I spoke to in the tech sector and business leaders really wanted was meaningful regulatory reform from you as chancellor to enable companies not only to establish in the UK, but to list on the London Stock Exchange rather than New York. You flashed your gleaming smile in your Prada shoes and Savile Row suit from behind a camera, but you just weren’t listening. All they received in return were platitudes and a speech illustrating how wonderful life was in California. London is now losing its appeal as more UK-based companies seek better listing opportunities in the U.S. That, Prime Minister, is entirely down to you.
Long before my resignation announcement, in July 2022, I had advised the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, of my intention to step down. Senior figures in the party, close allies of yours, have continued to this day to implore me to wait until the next general election rather than inflict yet another damaging by-election on the party at a time when we are consistently twenty points behind in the polls.
Having witnessed first-hand, as Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss were taken down, I decided that the British people had a right to know what was happening in their name. Why is it that we have had five Conservative Prime Ministers since 2010, with not one of the previous four having left office as the result of losing a general election? That is a democratic deficit which the mother of parliaments should be deeply ashamed of and which, as you and I know, is the result of the machinations of a small group of individuals embedded deep at the centre of the party and Downing St.
To start with, my investigations focused on the political assassination of Boris Johnson, but as I spoke to more and more people – and I have spoken to a lot of people, from ex-Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers both ex and current through all levels of government and Westminster and even journalists – a dark story emerged which grew ever more disturbing with each person I spoke to.
It became clear to me as I worked that remaining as a back bencher was incompatible with publishing a book which exposes how the democratic process at the heart of our party has been corrupted. As I uncovered this alarming situation I knew, such were the forces ranged against me, that I was grateful to retain my parliamentary privilege until today. And, as you also know Prime Minister, those forces are today the most powerful figures in the land. The onslaught against me even included the bizarre spectacle of the Cabinet Secretary claiming (without evidence) to a select committee that he had reported me to the Whips and Speakers office (not only have neither office been able to confirm this was true, but they have no power to act, as he well knows). It is surely as clear a breach of Civil Service impartiality as you could wish to see.
But worst of all has been the spectacle of a Prime Minister demeaning his office by opening the gates to whip up a public frenzy against one of his own MPs. You failed to mention in your public comments that there could be no writ moved for a by-election over summer. And that the earliest any by-election could take place is at the end of September. The clearly orchestrated and almost daily personal attacks demonstrates the pitifully low level your Government has descended to.
It is a modus operandi established by your allies which has targeted Boris Johnson, transferred to Liz Truss and now moved on to me. But I have not been a Prime Minister. I do not have security or protection. Attacks from people, led by you, declared open season on myself and the past weeks have resulted in the police having to visit my home and contact me on a number of occasions due to threats to my person.
Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie Parliament where nothing meaningful has happened. What exactly has been done or have you achieved? You hold the office of Prime Minister unelected, without a single vote, not even from your own MPs. You have no mandate from the people and the Government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?
And what a difference it is now since 2019, when Boris Johnson won an eighty-seat majority and a greater percentage of the vote share than Tony Blair in the Labour landslide victory of ’97. We were a mere five points behind on the day he was removed from office. Since you became Prime Minister, his manifesto has been completely abandoned. We cannot simply disregard the democratic choice of the electorate, remove both the Prime Minister and the manifesto commitments they voted for and then expect to return to the people in the hope that they will continue to unquestioningly support us. They have agency, they will use it.
Levelling up has been discarded and with it, those deprived communities it sought to serve. Social care, ready to be launched, abandoned along with the hope of all of those who care for the elderly and the vulnerable. The Online Safety Bill has been watered down. BBC funding reform, the clock run down. The Mental Health Act, timed out. Defence spending, reduced. Our commitment to net zero, animal welfare and the green issues so relevant to the planet and voters under 40, squandered. As Lord Goldsmith wrote in his own resignation letter, because you simply do not care about the environment or the natural world. What exactly is it you do stand for?
You have increased Corporation tax to 25 per cent, taking us to the level of the highest tax take since World War two at 75 per cent of GDP, and you have completely failed in reducing illegal immigration or delivering on the benefits of Brexit. The bonfire of EU legislation, swerved. The Windsor framework agreement, a dead duck, brought into existence by shady promises of future preferment with grubby rewards and potential gongs to MPs. Stormont is still not sitting.
Disregarding your own chancellor, last week you took credit for reducing inflation, citing your ‘plan’. There has been no budget, no new fiscal measures, no debate, there is no plan. Such statements take the British public for fools. The decline in the price of commodities such as oil and gas, the eased pressure on the supply of wheat and the increase in interest rates by the Bank of England are what has taken the heat out of the economy and reduced inflation. For you to personally claim credit for this was disingenuous at the very least.
It is a fact that there is no affection for Keir Starmer out on the doorstep. He does not have the winning X factor qualities of a Thatcher, a Blair, or a Boris Johnson, and sadly, Prime Minister, neither do you. Your actions have left some 200 or more of my MP colleagues to face an electoral tsunami and the loss of their livelihoods, because in your impatience to become Prime Minister you put your personal ambition above the stability of the country and our economy. Bewildered, we look in vain for the grand political vision for the people of this great country to hold on to, that would make all this disruption and subsequent inertia worthwhile, and we find absolutely nothing.
I shall take some comfort from explaining to people exactly how you and your allies achieved this undemocratic upheaval in my book. I am a proud working-class Conservative which is why the Levelling Up agenda was so important to me. I know personally how effective a strong and helping hand can be to lift someone out of poverty and how vision, hope and opportunity can change lives. You have abandoned the fundamental principles of Conservatism. History will not judge you kindly.
I shall today inform the Chancellor of my intention to take the Chiltern Hundreds, enabling the writ to be moved on September the 4th for the by-election you are so desperately seeking to take place.