MP NADINE Dorries insisted 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 When her decision to take part was disclosed just over a fortnight ago, she had the Tory whip withdrawn and faced criticism from Prime Minister David Cameron and fellow MPs.
But she said yesterday that she received permission from the then-chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, to have a month away.
“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 said.
“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 a row with police at the gates of Downing Street, has insisted that she neither sought nor was given permission to appear on the show.
But Ms Dorries accused him of being “clever with words” in a way that “epitomises politicians”.
“I find it quite disappointing 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.
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 earlier this month.
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 it clear he was not happy about her actions. “I want Conservative MPs in the House of Commons doing things that the Conservative Party and the country supports,” he said.
Ms Dorries said she has an office set up in her hotel room in Australia and is already back at work, and “worked right up to the moment” she headed Down Under. She said: “Some of the flak that has been thrown at me, I’m afraid, just isn’t true.
“My office has been manned, my staff have been working and I am back at work already.”
The MP lasted 12 days in the jungle until she was evicted on Wednesday night in the first public vote. She told presenters Ant and Dec that she had become less “self-important” during her time there.
“I actually came here self-important for a few days but I’m not now. I needed that missile and I think all MPs need that. I came from a council estate and never thought I was like that, but I was. I’m not now.”
Asked if she felt she had achieved her aim in raising awareness of issues, she said: “I don’t know what people have seen but I have had some fascinating conversations in there. It’s been a fascinating experience.
“I think it is important that MPs realise that you need to go where the public go.” ,