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Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries has finally carried out her threat to quit as an MP, denouncing prime minister Rishi Sunak in a withering resignation letter.
Her move, two months after she promised to go with “immediate effect”, will trigger a challenging autumn by-election for Sunak in her Mid Bedfordshire seat.
Dorries, a close ally of former premier Boris Johnson, quit on Saturday with a tirade against the prime minister, whom she accused of “abandoning the fundamental principles of Conservatism”.
She believes Sunak helped to bring down Johnson and that Downing Street was involved in stopping her appointment to the House of Lords.
In a strongly worded attack, she said Sunak was presiding over a directionless “zombie parliament”, adding that “history will not judge you kindly”.
Dorries first announced her intention to resign on June 9 but then delayed her decision, saying she wanted to find out why she did not win the peerage for which she had been nominated by Johnson in his resignation honours list.
Many Tory MPs believed she was delaying the announcement to inflict maximum damage on Sunak, who will now be forced to hold a by-election in the autumn, at a time when he is trying to relaunch his premiership.
Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour believe they can win the seat, which Dorries won in 2019 with a majority of 24,664.
Dorries will attempt to twist the knife further with the publication on the eve of the Conservative party conference next month of a new book that will apportion blame to those she believes helped to topple Johnson. Sunak, the former chancellor, is expected to feature prominently.
Dorries has been heavily criticised by Tory MPs, including by Sunak’s supporters, for her low-profile representation of the people of Mid Bedfordshire; she has not spoken in the Commons since June last year.
But she insisted that she and her team continued to carry out constituency case work and claimed that criticism of her by senior Tories had put her personal security at risk.
Her resignation letter accused Sunak of “demeaning his office by opening the gates to whip up a public frenzy” against her, saying that the police had to visit her home because of “threats to my person”.
“The clearly orchestrated and almost daily personal attacks demonstrate the pitifully low level your government has descended to,” she wrote.
Attacking the prime minister’s record, she added: “Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie parliament where nothing meaningful has happened. You have no mandate from the people and the government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?
“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.”
A Conservative party spokesman said the party has already “selected a candidate and are ready for the by-election campaign”.
One cabinet minister said Dorries’ letter confirmed “a grotesque, almost tragic, sense of entitlement for a peerage”.
“Her selfish disregard for her constituents and the party who gave her so many opportunities is appalling. She needs to recognise politics is about serving the public, not herself,” the minister said.
“However I wish her and her family well in the next chapter of her life — very few colleagues will be sad to see her go.”