Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries has launched a scathing attack on George Osborne, accusing him of being a “pernicious influence” on the economy and on David Cameron.
She says the Conservative Party cannot win the next election if Osborne remains in a senior role and believes “there will be” a Tory leadership contest ahead of the next general election.
In an interview with Huffington Post UK, the outspoken MP admits that her constant attacks on the prime minister and the chancellor have a “personal element” to them and are motivated by “anger”.
"Nobody wrongs me and doesn’t pay for it," she says, referring to Cameron's 2011 jibe in the Commons that the backbencher was "extremely frustrated". "There is a saying: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’”
Dorries reveals that her personal animosity towards the chancellor was provoked after a “left-wing journalist” told her last year that “Number 11 has just given a story to the Guardian that Cameron is pulling his support [for Dorries’ amendment on abortion counselling]… it came straight from George Osborne, it came straight from No 11.”
She claims the unnamed journalist told her that Osborne “is completely opposed to your agenda, he is completely pro-choice and he’s pushed into it by his wife”, and tells the HuffPost UK: ”I just couldn’t believe it… I will never forgive George Osborne for that.”
In May, after Dorries referred to the prime minister and the chancellor as “two arrogant posh boys”, Osborne responded by telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “Nadine Dorries, for the last seven years, I don’t think has agreed with anything either myself, David Cameron or indeed most Conservatives in the leadership of the party have done.”
Dorries, however, says the chancellor was being deliberately dishonest in his comments on the Marr show. “Osborne lied when he said that,” she tells the HuffPost UK. "Osborne and I have worked together for years. We worked together in Oliver Letwin’s office for three years, from 2001, when I wasn’t an MP, and I got to know George Osborne quite well. And that was a lie. It was just a lie.”
Osborne, she adds, “brings out the worst in Cameron… If Osborne were completely removed from the top of the party we’d have a very different David Cameron.”
Dorries repeats her call for the chancellor to be removed from his post – and suggests education secretary Michael Gove and junior treasury minister Sajid Javid as potential replacements.
“I think George Osborne is out of his depth,” she says. “He might be a politician and a strategist and a political campaigner. I don’t think he’s up to the job of being chancellor.” (However, she adds: "If George Osborne’s bad for the economy, Ed Balls is 10 times worse.")
The backbencher also blames the Tories’ botched boundary review on Osborne’s “stupidity and arrogance”.
“We won’t win an election while George Osborne is in a key position in the Conservative party,” she says. “I think George Osborne is a pernicious influence on the economy, on our political strategy, on our campaigning, on David Cameron personally and on the Number 10 operation.”
In the interview, Dorries also takes aim at David Cameron’s leadership of the party. Asked if there will be a Tory leadership contest ahead of the next general election in 2015, she says: “I think there will be.”
Dorries outlines the chain of events that she believes could trigger such a move against the PM by her fellow backbenchers: “If we do badly in the PCC [Police and Crime Commissioner] elections and badly in Corby and then we go into county council elections next May and then do badly in that, and if, come 2014, Ukip is the first party of Europe and we come third, all of those MPs who laughed at the prospect of Boris - who the polls say would give us 50 extra MPs - all those MPs who have been adamantly loyal to David Cameron, all of those MPs who see their mortgage payments not being made in June 2015, will suddenly have a very different viewpoint indeed.”
Asked if she is one of the 14 Tory MPs believed to have signed letters to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, calling for David Cameron to stand aside, Dorries merely replies: “I couldn’t possibly say.”
Mehdi Hasan’s full interview with Nadine Dorries MP – on subjects ranging from David Cameron and George Osborne to abortion and gay marriage – will be published later in the week
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<em>(All images: Press Association)</em>