Evicted from the jungle after her exploits eating an ostrich anus, Nadine Dorries claimed that she was already back at work as an MP, from the comfort of a five-star hotel in Australia.
Ms Dorries, suspended by the Conservative party for leaving her constituency to take part in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, maintained that she was back serving the people of Mid-Bedfordshire, hours after being evicted from the reality show.
The MP has set up an office in her room at the hotel Palazzo Versace Australia on Queensland’s Gold Coast and is dealing with important constituency matters.
“As soon as I got out of the jungle I was straight back to work,” she said. “My office has been manned, my staff have been working hard and I’m back at work already.”
But it was unclear when she would return to the Commons since ITV has invited her to remain in the luxury hotel until the end of the series next month, so that she can be reunited on camera with her fellow participants.
Critics accused the MP, who may face de-selection following her appearance on the show, of “abandoning her constituents”.
Speaking on ITV1’s Daybreak programme, Ms Dorries, 55, insisted that she had been given permission to leave the Commons for a month by the then Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell.
“A lot of MPs can take between four and six weeks a year and he said that was fine and that I could take the month away,” she said.
“I didn’t tell him what for, because I couldn't, as I was bound to confidentiality. But I did tell him what I was going to do would be quite controversial.”
The Whips office appeared happy to have the rebellious MP off the premises. But now Mr Mitchell, forced to resign over the “plebgate” affair, was “trying to be clever with words and say that he didn’t give me permission for the show. Well, he didn’t give me permission for the show, but he did give me permission to have the month away.”
The first contestant to be evicted, after 12 days, Ms Dorries had signed up for the show in the belief that she could get a wider airing for her views on abortion time limits and other issues.
In the event, there was little political debate as viewers selected Dorries to eat a camel’s toe and cattle genitals. “It’s been a fascinating experience,” she reflected. “I actually came here self-important for a few days, but I’m not now.”
Budge Wells, deputy chairman of the Mid-Beds Conservative Association, told the BBC that the MP would be given the chance to put her case to the executive when she returned.
Lord Ashcroft published a poll of local voters on the Conservative Home website which suggested that Ms Dorries decision had backfired. Just 16% of her constituents approved of her participation with 64% saying of Conservative voters saying it was right for her to lose the Tory whip.