Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has resigned her seat with immediate effect after she was passed over for a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours.
The former culture secretary has caused a major headache for Rishi Sunak by triggering a by-election contest – saying she thought it was time for someone else to represent the area.
Ms Dorries was notably absent from the honours list, reportedly dropped to avoid exactly such a Commons by-election when she was moved to the House of Lords.
But Mr Sunak’s party now faces exactly such a test after the bestselling novelist and Johnson loyalist walked out anyway.
In a statement posted on Twitter Ms Dorries said: “I have today informed the chief whip that I am standing down as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire, with immediate effect.
“It has been an honour to serve as the MP for such a wonderful constituency but it is now time for someone younger to take the reins.”
She later edited her tweet and replaced the words “someone younger” with “another”.
“There are many many people in the House of Lords who do not have the record of achievement I have but they did go to Oxford or Cambridge,” the outgoing MP told broadcaster TalkTV after she made the announcement.
Earlier this morning she had told the broadcaster: “The last thing I would want to do would be to cause a by-election in my constituency.”
But interviewed again on the channel after she had announced her resignation, she said: “I can’t reveal everything – something significant did happen to change my mind”.
Shortly after she announced she was quitting, Ms Dorries was unceremoniously removed from the WhatsApp group of Conservative MPs.
The MP has represented mid-Bedfordshire since 2005 and currently holds it with a large majority of nearly 25,000.
But Tory poll woes and a strong of losses in southern “Blue Wall” seats to the Liberal Democrats for Mr Sunak’s party mean opposition parties will be hoping to capture it.
“This is a rural seat in the heart of the blue wall, we are in it to win it,” said a Lib Dem spokesperson.
Ms Dorries said she had had “a number of conversations” with ex-PM Mr Johnson over the last 24 hours while his resignation honours were being finalised, and that “he knows exactly what I am doing”.
Shabana Mahmood , Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator said: “After 13 years of failed Tory government, it’s time for a change. The departure of Nadine Dorries shows Rishi Sunak is too weak to lead a Tory Party that has lost interest in the people of Mid Bedfordshire. It doesn’t need to be this way. Labour will be campaigning to win in this by-election by listening to the voters the Tories are ignoring.”