U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives said lawmaker Nadine Dorries remains suspended from the party for appearing on a reality-television show until she’s “rebuilt bridges” within her electoral district.
The Tory party suspended Dorries -- “removed the whip” from her in parliamentary parlance -- on Nov. 6 over her decision to go to Australia to appear on ITV Plc’s “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!” While the show continues for a month, she was the first contestant to be voted off by viewers. That meant she missed 11 days of work.
“The whip has not been restored, and nor will it be until she proves that she can rebuild bridges with her constituents, her association and her parliamentary colleagues,” the Conservative Party said in an e-mailed statement today.
Following a meeting with Chief Whip George Young, who oversees Tory party discipline, Dorries told the BBC’s Three Counties radio station, which covers her Mid-Bedfordshire district, that she wants to carry on as a lawmaker.
“We had a very good-natured, a very happy meeting. We have adjourned the meeting and we are reconvening this time next week, if not before” she said. “Of course I want to be an MP. An MP is not doing a job, it is a life choice. If I didn’t want to make that life choice, I wouldn’t be doing it, I can assure you.”
Unless Dorries regains the whip, she will not be able to run again as a Tory candidate. Young could restore her to the party if he accepts she has rebuilt trust within her district, or he could withdraw the whip permanently, leaving her to sit in the House of Commons as an independent.
The risk for Cameron is that if she were expelled from the party, she might defect to another political grouping, such as the U.K. Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain’s independence from the European Union. Dorries has repeatedly criticized Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne for being out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters.
The reality show forces celebrities to live in a jungle camp and perform challenges including eating insects and touching dangerous animals such as snakes. Previous winners have used the show as a springboard to better their careers.
Dorries said she wasn’t trying to cultivate a career in television, arguing that she was seeking new ways of engaging with the public.
“I have gone to a place where 12 million people go and engaged with them at their level,” she told the BBC. “I don’t want a television career. I do want a platform which engages with the public on a different level from that which Westminster offers.”