From the jungle of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! to the cabinet of the UK government, via the shelves of Waterstones, Nadine Dorries’ rise to the top tiers of Westminster has been varied and not without controversy. Here are some of her most notable moments.
Dorries’ appointment as culture secretary has fuelled speculation that the government intends to double down on so-called “culture war” issues. In 2017, in a tweet that was widely shared, Dorries railed against “leftwing snowflakes”.
She said they were “killing comedy, tearing down historic statues, removing books from universities, dumbing down panto, removing Christ from Christmas and suppressing free speech. Sadly, it must be true, history does repeat itself. It will be music next.”
Dorries presents herself as a social conservative, a position seen in her previous comments on gay rights and her position against gay marriage – which she later said was her “biggest regret” as an MP. Writing for ConservativeHome in 2012, she said: “Gay marriage is a policy which has been pursued by the metro elite gay activists and needs to be put into the same bin.
“I have yet to meet a gay couple in my constituency or beyond who support it; in fact, the reaction has been quite the opposite. Great Britain and its gay couples don’t live on Canal Street in Manchester, shop in The Lanes in Brighton or socialise at Gaydar in London. Gay couples are no different from heterosexual couples and yet this policy transforms them into political agitators who have set themselves against the church and community.”
Free school meals
Dorries has shown some contrition on government failures. Earlier this year she admitted that the paltry free school meal boxes offered to families at the time did not provide enough food for five days’ worth of school lunches.
Speaking on talkRadio, she said: “I spent most of my school life on free school meals. I feel this issue quite strongly. I was incredibly shocked when I saw that package. I know that the government’s response has been swift and thorough and that those packages are being looked at right now. Measures are being put in place to deal with the problem.
“I know that’s happening right now. Everybody was shocked to see [it]. What we want is food to be supplied to mothers or fathers to be able to provide five days of school lunches for their children. That was not available in that box. We admit that, we know that, we are putting very robust measures in place to ensure that the providers sort that situation out.”
Her record on race is also marred by controversy. In 2013 she complained that she had been called racist after saying that then Labour MP Chuka Umunna looked like the ex-boxer Chris Eubank.
In August 2018 she argued that Boris Johnson “didn’t go far enough” in an article in which he likened Muslim women who wear burqas to “postboxes” and “bank robbers”.
In addition, Dorries has shared several tweets that critics said promoted Islamophobia, including one from the English Defence League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson.
Dorries has made interesting remarks in the past about her colleagues in the Conservative party. Speaking to BBC Two’s Daily Politics in 2012, Dorries said: “Unfortunately, I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime.”
However, she has been a longtime supporter of Boris Johnson, which may go some way to explaining her appointment to senior government roles. Political commentators have suggested Johnson prizes loyalty above other characteristics.
In an interview with the Sun in 2012, Dorries said she “longs for the day Boris Johnson…