ICYMI: Everything You Need To Know About The UK’s Latest Political Madness

Nadine Dorries fumed, Boris Johnson lobbed a grenade, Paul Scully was snubbed and Nicola Sturgeon protested her innocence
Ndine Dorries, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have all been in the headlines.
Ndine Dorries, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have all been in the headlines.

With the less-than-charismatic Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and Humza Yousaf leading the UK’s major parties, politics felt like it had lost some of its bombast.

But we had been lulled into a false sense of security. Last weekend has shown that mud-slinging and madness is never far from the surface.

Westminster’s political drama came thick and fast, starting with Nadine Dorries throwing in the towel on Friday afternoon and ending with Sunak and Boris Johnson going to war with one another on Monday.

Meanwhile, in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was arrested and in London, government minister Paul Scully was snubbed in the mayoral race.

Here we run through everything you need to know.

Who Quit Parliament And Why?

Johnson loyalist Dorries kicked off the chaos on Friday afternoon by announcing she intended to stand down as an MP with “immediate effect”.

Dorries, who served as culture secretary under Johnson, told TalkTV that “something significant did happen to change my mind”.

That “something” was the revelation on Thursday evening that she had not, after all, made it onto the former prime minister’s resignation honours list being published the following day.

Johnson had wanted to reward Dorries’s loyalty by giving her a seat in the House of Lords.

However, the House of Lords appointments committee [Holac] ruled that she and three other Tory MPs on Johnson’s list could not accept peerages while also keeping their Commons seats until the general election.

However, Johnson and his allies blamed Downing Street for blocking the peerages.

In a 1,000-word diatribe, he sensationally claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by the Commons privileges committee, which is investigating whether he misled MPs over the partygate scandal.

Having been given a copy of the committee’s report, which is believed to say he is guilty and recommend a lengthy suspension from parliament, Johnson described it as a kangaroo court” and accused its members of trying to “drive me out”.

So Johnson decided to get ahead of the publication of the report, which he claimed is “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice”, by jumping before being pushed.

In a further blow for No.10, Johnson ally Nigel Adams MP - who was also passed over for a peerage - announced that he too was standing down, triggering another by-election.

Behind The Scenes

Johnson and Sunak had met just over a week before Dorries’ resignation but both men left the meeting with a different impression of events.

Johnson apparently thought his resignation honours list would be waved through and the MPs would be able to receive their peerages at a later date.

However, No.10 disputes this, with a source saying: “When the prime minister met with the former prime minister recently, the former prime minister raised the matter of peerages with him, to which the current prime minister made clear he would follow precedent and not interfere with the process. Any suggestions of promises made or guarantees given are categorically untrue.”

All Out War

The rivalry between Johnson and Sunak ratcheted up to a new level on Monday as the two men traded public blows.

Sunak slapped down Johnson in the morning, accusing his predecessor of asking him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do”, when asked if No.10 intervened in the honours list.

The PM told the London Tech week conference: “Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do, because I didn’t think it was right.

“That was to either overrule the Holac (House of Lords Appointments Commission) committee or to make promises for people.

“Now, I wasn’t prepared to do that. I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough.”

But Johnson hit back in the afternoon, accusing Sunak of “talking rubbish” as the bitter war of words between the two men escalated.

“Rishi Sunak is talking rubbish,” he said.

“To honour these peerages it was not necessary to overrule Holac – but simply to ask them to renew their vetting, which was a mere formality.”

Where Will The By-elections Take Place?

Nadine Dorries - Mid Bedfordshire

Majority: 24,664

The Liberal Democrats are eyeing up Dorries’ Blue Wall constituency of Mid Bedfordshire.

Despite being an ultra-safe Tory seat, the Lib Dems have overturned similar huge majorities in recent by-elections.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey was set to visit a river in the constituency on Monday as they launched their campaign.

He claimed Mid Bedfordshire will be a “close race” between his party and the “out of touch” Tories.

“Lifelong Conservative voters in towns and villages across the country have been telling me it’s time for change,” he added.

Boris Johnson - Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Majority: 7,210

The Labour Party has had its eyes on this West London prize even before Johnson announced he was quitting.

Their candidate Danny Beales has been knocking on doors since the news broke that Johnson was off.

While it is not a huge majority to overturn, Labour gaining the former prime minister’s seat will be seen as hugely symbolic.

Nigel Adams - Selby and Ainsty

Majority: 20,137

The Tory Party will hope to cling on to safe seat Selby and Ainsty but analysis of the latest polling by Focaldata and Best for Britain shows it could be rocky.

And if the Tories lose all three by-elections in the same day it will be a huge blow to Sunak’s premiership.

What Happened With Nicola Sturgeon?

North of the border another extraordinary drama is unfolding involving a stalwart of Scottish politics.

On Sunday it emerged that former first minister Nicola Sturgeon had been arrested as part of an investigation into the SNP’s finances.

She was questioned for seven hours by detectives investigating the whereabouts of £660,000 donated to the party for a second independence referendum campaign.

After she was released without charge, Sturgeon insisted she is “innocent of any wrongdoing”.

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Ken Jack via Getty Images

Sturgeon’s husband, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, and the party’s former treasurer, Colin Beattie, have also previously been arrested as part of the probe known as Operation Branchform.

Following her release, Sturgeon said it was “beyond doubt” that she was innocent.

She said: “To find myself in the situation I did today when I am certain I have committed no offence is both a shock and deeply distressing.”

Sturgeon went on: “I do wish to say this, and to do so in the strongest possible terms. Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”

Why Was Paul Scully Snubbed?

Meanwhile, a new sideshow emerged down in London over the weekend as it was revealed minister Paul Scully had been snubbed from the mayoral race.

Scully was seen as the frontrunner to be the Tory candidate for London mayor but failed to even make the shortlist of candidates vying to take on Sadiq Khan.

The Sutton and Cheam MP missed out on the final three drawn up by the party ahead of next year’s election.

Paul Scully
Paul Scully
Richard Townshend

Former Downing Street adviser Daniel Korski, London assembly member Susan Hall and largely unknown barrister Mozammel Hossain made the final three.

However, had Scully been chosen to run and won the election he would have had to resign his seat - prompting yet another by-election before the general election.


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