New Mid Beds MP promises to continue Nadine Dorries’ ‘opposition’ to Government

Former Tory culture secretary Ms Dorries was an ardent supporter of Boris Johnson’s premiership.

David Lynch
Tuesday 14 November 2023 16:31 GMT
Labour MP Alistair Strathern (Joe Giddens/PA)
Labour MP Alistair Strathern (Joe Giddens/PA)

The new Labour MP for Mid Bedfordshire has promised to continue Nadine Dorries’ “proud tradition of robust opposition” to the Government.

Alistair Strathern warned Rishi Sunak of his intentions after the Prime Minister had joked the new MP might “actually support me a little bit more” than his predecessor.

Ms Dorries stood down as MP for the constituency earlier this year, triggering the by-election in which Labour overturned the Conservatives’ previous 24,664 majority.

Former Tory culture secretary Ms Dorries was an ardent supporter of Boris Johnson’s premiership, and has since criticised Mr Sunak’s leadership decisions.

In her recently published book, The Plot, she claims a shadowy group of Conservative politicians and advisers called “the movement” worked to topple Mr Johnson as prime minister.

As Mr Strathern made his first speech in the Commons, he paid tribute to his predecessor, telling MPs: “I think it would be fair to say that we differ somewhat in politics and personal style, but it is clear to me she broke through many barriers on her way to this House and she should take great pride in that.”

He also thanked Mr Sunak for his welcome, made during Prime Minister’s Questions, as well as Conservative former prime minister Theresa May, who claimed the Labour MP was her “first cousin, once removed” as she congratulated him on his by-election victory.

Responding to these welcome messages in his speech, Mr Strathern said: “I would also like to thank not one but two prime ministers for their incredibly warm welcomes to this House over recent weeks, though I have to warn the current Prime Minister that while in some areas I do differ from my predecessor, I intend to continue her proud tradition of robust opposition to this Government.”

Mr Strathern later continued to joke about Ms Dorries, who once appeared on ITV’s reality television programme, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

She has since been followed into the jungle by Mr Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson, and Tory former health secretary Matt Hancock.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage will also appear in the programme this year.

But Mr Strathern suggested that political party whips could send their MPs to a much-less contentious alternative to the celebrity jungle which is based in his constituency.

The Labour MP claimed Woburn Centre Parcs’ “Subtropical Swimming Paradise” could be a “more amenable suggestion to offer members should they come to you in the future feeling the lure of an escape to the jungle on their cards and want your advice about what to do next”.

Elsewhere in his speech, the MP joked about David Cameron’s return to frontline politics as Foreign Secretary.

As prime minister, Lord Cameron once appeared to forget which football team he supported, writing in a tweet that he supported West Ham when he had previously claimed he was an Aston Villa fan.

Mr Strathern welcomed Lord Cameron to his new office, but added: “As a fellow Aston Villa fan though, I have to say I really hope his time here as Foreign Secretary won’t deprive him from an opportunity to still enjoy our beloved team at the London Stadium.”

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