Nadine Dorries faces move to force her out of Parliamenton August 7, 2023 at 12:52 pm

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Nadine Dorries could be suspended if she does not attend Commons for six months, a senior Labour MP says.

Nadine DorriesImage source, PA Media

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries is facing a move to force her out of Parliament if she fails to attend for six months.

The proposals have been put forward by senior Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant.

Ms Dorries said she was standing down as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire in June but later said she would not formally resign until she got more information about why she was denied a peerage.

She has not spoken in the Commons since July 2022 and last voted in April.

Six months on from her last vote in Parliament would be 26 October.

Under his proposals, first reported by the Financial Times, Sir Chris said a motion could be tabled in Parliament requiring an MP to attend the Commons on a certain date.

If they failed to do so he said this could be considered a “contempt of Parliament”, which can be punished with a suspension from the Commons.

If MPs approve a suspension of 10 days or more this can trigger a by-election in the constituency, where voters have the chance to oust their local MP.

Sir Chris, who chairs the Commons standards committee, said the move had basis in a parliamentary rule from 1801 stating that “no member do presume to go out of town without leave of this House”.

He told the BBC he wanted to see MPs held to the same standards as councillors, who automatically cease to be a councillor, triggering a by-election, if they fail to attend any meetings for six months without good reason.

“I just think this is bringing the whole system into disrepute,” he said.

“Why should you be allowed to draw a salary and claim expenses for your staff and all that kind of stuff if you’re not actually doing the job of turning up?”

Sir Chris said he had discussed his proposals with both the Conservative and Labour whips, who help organise each party’s contribution to parliamentary business, as well as the Clerk of the House, who advises on procedure.

“Everybody knows that, at least in theory, it is a feasible option,” he said.

Asked if he would table a motion to oust Ms Dorries when Parliament returns in the autumn, Sir Chris said: “Maybe she’ll turn up on the first day back in September and take part in debates and so on. Or maybe she’ll resign… Let’s see what happens.”

Downing Street said it was for Ms Dorries’s constituents to decide whether they were “well served”.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the people of Mid Bedfordshire were not being properly represented.

While he could suspend her as a Conservative MP, Mr Sunak has no power to remove Ms Dorries from Parliament.

Ms Dorries has been approached for comment.

She has previously claimed that “sinister forces” denied her a seat in the House of Lords.

A close ally of Boris Johnson, she has accused Mr Sunak’s political team of removing her name from the former prime minister’s resignation honours list.

She said she had requested copies of all correspondence relating to her nomination for the Lords and was waiting for this process to be completed before she formally resigned.

However, the former minister has faced calls, including from her local town council, to resign immediately.

Flitwick Town Council said she had not held a surgery in the area since March 2020 and was more focused on her TV show and upcoming book.

Ms Dorries has said her office continues to function as normal and she would continue to serve her constituents.

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