Dorries warned to 'rebuild bridges'
Nadine Dorries has been warned that she must rebuild bridges with her constituents and fellow MPs following her appearance on TV show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!.
At a meeting with Conservative Chief Whip Sir George Young, the Mid-Bedfordshire MP was told she would not be restored to the ranks of the Parliamentary Conservative Party unless she could prove she had managed to mend fences.
Ms Dorries had the Tory whip suspended earlier this month after it emerged that she had flown out to Australia while Parliament was sitting to take part in the programme.
A spokesman for Sir George said: "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."
Following her talks with Sir George, Ms Dorries expressed confidence that she would regain the whip when they meet again next week. "I think we will be fine with the whip," she told BBC Three Counties Radio, which covers her constituency. "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."
Party sources made clear it was not a foregone conclusion that the whip would be restored and Ms Dorries, who returned home yesterday after being the first contestant to be voted off the show, remained "very much in limbo".
Ms Dorries, who will not be able to stand again as a Tory candidate unless she regains the whip, insisted that she wanted to carry on in Parliament.
"Of course I want to be an MP," she said. "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."
The outspoken backbencher shocked her Westminster colleagues and her constituents when it emerged she had flown out to the Australian jungle for the TV show. Under the programme's rules, she was not allowed to announce her appearance in advance. She insists she had permission from then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell to take a month off in November, but admits she did not tell him what for.
Despite the controversy her decision generated, she insisted she still had a "huge amount of support" in her constituency, saying: "I have come back to a considerable number of emails - in excess of 700 emails - the majority of which are very positive and very complimentary."