The controversial MP who gained notoriety from her appearance on I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here has said she is to stop claiming parliamentary expenses.
Nadine Dorries, who was withdrawn from the Conservative Party whip for six months for her appearance on the ITV show in 2012, said she is giving up claiming next month so she can argue for reform of the system.
The news comes while the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) – the body responsible for MPs salaries that Ms Dorries is protesting against – continues to investigate the Mid Bedfordshire MP’s own expenses.
In a posting on her website, she claimed her decision would mean she would be working for her constituents for free by relying only on her £68,000-a-year parliamentary income.
“I can't talk about the Ipsa investigation until it reports other than to say that so far I am happy with the way the investigation has been conducted and I am looking forward to the report,” she wrote on her blog.
“However, I have made the decision to stop claiming any personal MP expenses and to fund my role as an MP from my salary. In effect, this will take most of my salary, which means I will be representing Mid Bedfordshire for free!”
The announcement means she will reportedly sacrifice about £3,040 a month, which she currently claims in expenses for accommodation, council tax, travel costs and meals.
In a direct criticism of Ipsa, which was introduced in the wake of the expenses scandal, Ms Dorries added: “I have long said that under the present system, before long, Parliament will be a place of millionaires or paupers.
“I loathe the expenses system and believe it should be scrapped and MPs paid one flat-rate fee. Whilst I draw personal expenses, I cannot argue for reform of the system or put forward the case to scrap expenses. Not drawing expenses puts me in a stronger position to be able to do this.”
She also defended the way she had claimed expenses in the past, insisting that a second home in Westminster was “essential” for her to properly carry out her duties to Mid Bedfordshire.
“I cannot fulfill my role as an MP without accommodation in Westminster. I cannot travel backwards and forwards to and from Bedfordshire on late nights,” she wrote.
“For the last eight years I have claimed for the cost of my room/flat, as I am entitled to, plus council tax, utilities and my travel expenses to and from the constituency to Westminster - as do the majority of MPs. From the end of July I will fund this using my salary and will draw no personal expenses.”
Ms Dorries joins a growing number of MPs who have publicly criticised Ipsa. Earlier this year, Tory backbencher Karl McCartney claimed the body was willfully "screwing MPs into the grounds" by deliberately failing to offer reimbursements in a timely manner.
The watchdog is, however, investigating allegations that Miss Dorries wrongly sub-let her taxpayer-funded home and that she “may have been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses that should not have been allowed”.
She has denied any wrongdoing and has attacked Ipsa for “the upset and humiliation” it has caused her family.