The Tory party was in chaos tonight after Nadine Dorries shocked fellow MPs after announcing she would stand down with immediate effect after being removed from Boris Johnson’s outgoing honours list.

Her surprise resignation triggers a by-election in Mid Bedfordshire where she had a 24,664 majority. Sir Alok Sharma has also been struck off the list to avoid a by-election in his swing seat of Reading West.

Dorries, who only earlier this morning told TalkTV that she would not be standing down before the next election, has since mysteriously tweeted that “something” happened during the day that changed her mind. That “something” may have been the decision to remove her from the honours list, subject to much controversy over the last few months. 

In the TV interview, the former culture secretary and close ally of former prime minister, Johnson: “The last thing I’d want to do would be to cause a by-election in my constituency”. She will be appearing later tonight on her own TalkTV show. 

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Yet her decision to quit so dramatically still means that Rishi Sunak faces a high-profile by-election, just when he had been hoping to have calmed down the internecine war between him and the Johnson camp. 

As one MP said: “The decision to take her off the honours list looks to have backfired. It’s all out war now between the Sunak and Johnson camps.” Allies of Dorries and Johnson are suggesting that the decision not to give Dorries a peerage – despite standing as an MP for 18 years and having won such a big majority – was pathetic in its vindictive revenge. 

Showing indecent haste, Dorries has already been booted out of the Conservative MPs Whatsapp group. The Tories at war is never an enjoyable affair. 

This honours list has not been without controversy. Johnson’s father, Stanley, has been removed but according to The Times, Martin Reynolds, the controversial aide who served during Partygate and was responsible for inviting 200 people to the “socially distanced drinks” at Number 10, is to be knighted. 

More by-elections were on the cards until recently as Scotland minister Alister Jack, and MP for Selby and Ainsty Nigel Adams were also named, but neither of them will stand down as MPs.

The seat being vacated by Dorries will be a test for Sunak. The PM has only presided over the Lancashire West by-election so far, a staunch Labour safe seat. It is highly unlikely, even in light of Focaldata’s polling, that Labour will steal her seat. However, if Labour and the Lib Dems decided to experiment with some tactical voting, the constituency could fall to the Lib Dems. 

Memories of last year’s by-election in Tiverton and Honiton will be haunting Sunak. After Neil Parrish resigned for admitting that he viewed pornography on his phone in the Commons chamber, Richard Foord of the Lib Dems won the following by-election. 

If the Tories were to lose Mid Bedfordshire, it could prove a symbolic casualty that would galvanise Labour ahead of next year’s election. Hopefully Dorries will tell all in her next blockbuster novel.

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