The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Irritated, a foiled May still plots an election
Posted Monday, 21 January 2019 at 14:10

White-faced and red-lipped, on the night of the snap 2017 election, Theresa May told her advisers: “I don’t look strong and stable now, I just look stupid.” That defeat did not deliver the thumping majority she expected. It lost us 13 Conservative MPs and our majority, necessitating a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP for the Conservative Party to survive and to save the country from a Marxist government.

That night must have had the most profound and deep impact on such a proud and private woman. A dedicated public servant who has given her entire life, working and waiting for a very different outcome to arrive.

Last Tuesday, along with 117 other Conservative MPs, I voted against May’s EU withdrawal deal. It was 
a bad deal for Britain, but even more so for Northern Ireland as it contained the problematic Irish backstop, repeatedly rejected by the DUP. If the deal had passed, the Conservative Party would have sailed into very dangerous waters. The DUP would have had no alternative but to end the supply and confidence arrangement. At the least, its MPs would have sat on their hands and not joined us in the voting lobbies. In these extraordinary days, the 118 Conservative rebels were voting to keep the party in power, while the whips and No 10 were leaning on MPs to vote for the deal, lose the DUP and create chaos. Why?

Winning the vote would have been a massive boost for May, here and abroad. It would have created the perfect storm: an emboldened and respected prime minister, having delivered the seemingly impossible, with her government and party in free fall as the DUP walked out the door. These would have been the ideal conditions in which to call another snap general election, with May at the helm.

A general election would mean seeking a public endorsement for the withdrawal agreement from a country that voted leave. It would be a huge, stonking risk and one that would send an icy chill down the spine of almost every Conservative MP.

Recently, it was reported that May attended the 1922 committee and stated that she understood that MPs did not want her to lead the party into the next general election. She said she was disappointed. MPs were stunned when she said she had wanted to do just that. She viewed it as unfinished business, to put right her mistakes in 2017.

My colleague Adam Holloway asked the prime minister to confirm that she would not lead us into any election, not just the one due in 2022. He pressed her twice and, with feeble voice, she failed to answer him. Her eyes were down, her body language evasive.

It was very unlike a previous meeting after the election when, with eyes forward and voice strong, she announced: “I got us into this mess and I will get us out of it.” It was obvious to those of us who voted against her in the recent personal vote of confidence that if it had been her intention not to lead us into 
any election, she would have been unambiguous in her response to Adam.

As the chief whip whispered the result into the ear of the prime minister after the withdrawal agreement vote last week — the worst defeat of any government — irritated, she abruptly shrugged her shoulders in response.

The following day, when the vote of confidence in the government arrived, Michael Gove gave the speech of his life. Make no mistake: that was not just his leadership bid, it was the first shot fired in an election campaign as he exposed and excoriated Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not winter that is coming, it’s a general election and May’s advisers will attempt to ensure she leads us into it.

(This article first appeared in yesterday's Sunday Times.)

Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Telephone: 020 7219 5928

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