MP Nadine Dorries insisted yesterday that she warned the Government chief whip she was taking a month off for something “quite controversial” before entering the jungle for I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!.
After becoming the first contestant voted off the latest series, the Conservative MP must now face the music in Westminster and her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency where colleagues and constituents alike were shocked at her participation.
Because of the rules of the show, Ms Dorries was unable to announce in advance that she was going to the Australian jungle.
When her decision to take part was disclosed just over a fortnight ago, she had the Tory whip withdrawn and faced criticism from Prime Minister David Cameron and fellow MPs, aghast that she would leave the Commons and her constituency during term-time. But she said yesterday that she received permission from the then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell to have a month away in November.
“In all of my seven-and-a-half years I’ve never taken a day away in parliamentary time, and ... a lot of MPs will take between four to six weeks a year,” she told ITV1’s Daybreak.
“And he said that was fine and I could take the month away. And I didn’t tell him what for, because I couldn’t, because I was bound to confidentiality. But I did tell him what I was going to do would be quite controversial.”
Mr Mitchell, who has since resigned over his row with police at the gates of Downing Street, has insisted that she neither sought nor was given permission to appear on I’m A Celebrity. He reiterated that yesterday.
But Ms Dorries accused him of being “clever with words” in a way that “epitomises politicians”.
“I find it quite disappointing now, that now the spotlight came on to this that he has chosen – and particularly after all the support I gave him during his own particular troubles recently – that he is trying to be clever with words and say that he didn’t give me permission for the show,” she said. “Well, he didn’t give me permission for the show, but he did give me permission to have the month away.”
Ms Dorries will have to explain her actions to Mr Mitchell’s successor as chief whip, Sir George Young, who suspended her from the parliamentary party.
When the news of her participation in the show broke, the Prime Minister – already on bad terms with the wayward backbencher – did not rule out her return to the Tory fold but made clear he was not happy about her actions.