Tory MP loses whip after signing up for reality show
The UK's Conservative Party has suspended the whip from MP Nadine Dorries after it emerged she is planning to be absent from Westminster to appear on ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, a senior party source said today.
The 55-year-old, who represents Mid Bedfordshire, will face eating bugs and offal as the first serving MP to take part in the programme.
But her stint in the jungle – which could see her missing an EU budget vote and potentially be away for Chancellor George Osborne’s mini-budget – caught even her own colleagues off-guard.
Her constituency chairman said he was unaware of her involvement in the show and Home Secretary Theresa May said she believed an MP should be doing their job in their constituency and in Parliament.
Dorries, who earns more than £65,000 as an MP, has flown out to Brisbane to prepare for the show. She also stands to pick up a fee for appearing on the programme.
She justified her decision to take part, telling The Sun: “I’m doing the show because 16 million people watch it. If people are watching I’m A Celebrity, that is where MPs should be going.
“I’m not going in there to upset people, but I have opinions.”
An ITV spokeswoman declined to comment on Dorries’s inclusion in the show. She said: “ITV have not announced the line up for I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here.”
Dorries is already facing criticism for agreeing to take part in the show.
Former Conservative MP Harry Greenway said: “This is outrageous. Her local constituency party should think very deeply as to whether she is putting them first or not.
“Whatever fee she receives should go to charity, because her parliamentary pay won’t stop during her absence,” he added.
Ex-MP Louise Mensch, who gave up her Corby seat in August to live with her husband in America, said: “Nothing sadder than a politician, or ex-politician, on any of those shows.
“Just imagining the scene in the whips’ office if I said I wanted to skip Parliament for weeks to go on a celebrity TV show.”
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “While she is being a Z-list celebrity, her constituents will be without an MP.”