Nadine Dorries: The culture secretary’s 11 most recent gaffes and controversies

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has once more invited a storm of derision by proclaiming that this summer’s Commonwealth Games will, at last, “put Birmingham on the map”.

Speaking during her latest media blitz on Thursday morning, the Cabinet minister, known not entirely affectionately as “Mad Nad” to some wary colleagues, hailed the athletics extravaganza as a boon to Britain’s already really rather well-known second city.

She drew further heat by going on to accuse former chancellor and Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak of masterminding the downfall of her beloved Boris Johnson, saying that the prime minister was being forced out of Downing Street by a coup.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire and part-time romance novelist – who grew up on a council estate in Liverpool and trained as a nurse in Warrington before seeking elected office in 2005 – was no stranger to controversy long before she began positioning herself as an arch-Johnsonite and outspoken culture warrior on Twitter.

Having angered her fellow Conservatives by branding David Cameron and George Osborne “two arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”, she first attracted nationwide fame by flying out to Australia in 2012 to be part of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Ms Dorries was soon voted off the show but did win the Bushtucker Trial by performing an astonishing feat of endurance eating that saw her wolf down a meal of baked spider, camel toe, lamb testicle and ostrich anus before baulking at a fermented duck egg.

But it has been the Johnson era and her promotion to the frontbench that has truly allowed Ms Dorries to shine thanks to her willingness to defend the PM no matter what the cost to her own public image, with the comedians Joe Lycett and Sooz Kempner least able to resist sending her up.

Here are just her 11 most recent brushes with notoriety, for the sake of brevity.

Accuses the BBC of running on nepotism after hiring her own daughters

At last October’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Ms Dorries raised eyebrows by telling a Telegraph podcast that the BBC was staffed by people “whose mum and dad worked there”, a baseless claim that only dredged up accusations of hypocrisy given that she had employed two of her daughters as staff in her parliamentary office in 2013 at a cost of up to £80,000 to the taxpayer.

She has form in this area, having hit out at LBC talk radio host James O’Brien on Twitter as a “public school posh boy f*** wit”, despite sending her own girls to the very same school attended by her enemy – Ampleforth College, a fee-paying Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire.

Reveals ignorance of Channel 4’s funding model

During a select committee appearance on 24 November last year, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, to give her her full title, wrongly claimed that Channel 4 was “in receipt of public money” therein entirely undermining her insistence that it should be privatised and, arguably, her credibility in the job.

Despite not understanding how the broadcaster is funded, she has since attacked it for its “edgy” news offerings, accused it of faking its reality TV shows with paid actors and called its supporters a “lefty lynch mob”.

Nadine Dorries says ‘edgy’ Channel 4 News ‘doesn’t do itself any favours’

Gives three car crash interviews in one evening

A redacted version of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal appeared on 31 January, offering a damning assessment of the denizens of Downing Street for breaking their own Covid rules to celebrate while the electorate stayed indoors.

In a heated session in the House of Commons in the aftermath of its publication, a flailing Boris Johnson fought desperately to defend himself, even throwing in a lurid and entirely false conspiracy theory about Sir Keir Starmer attempting to shield paedophile Jimmy Savile from justice during his tenure as director of public prosecutions, a smear for which he was subsequently pressured into apologising.

Afterwards, Ms Dorries attempted to defend the indefensible in a series of increasingly unhinged interviews from the lobby with Sky News, the BBC and Channel 4, insisting through gritted-teeth that Mr Johnson “always tells the truth” despite mounting evidence to the contrary, inspiring many, many memes.

Ridiculed for staring adoringly at the PM

Four days later, with the scandal still raging, Mr Johnson returned to be pilloried in the Commons once again, an occasion in which Ms Dorries again went viral, this time for beaming admiringly at her wounded Galahad from the frontbenches.

Social media began to wonder whether she really was in love with him, such was the intensity of her expression, a charge she was eventually forced to deny when she appeared as a guest on his sister Rachel’s LBC show on 20 June.

The Charlie Stayt interview

If those earlier press interactions in defence of Mr Johnson were a disaster, another on BBC Breakfast on Saturday 5 February was just downright weird.

Apparently calling into the studio from a haunted attic, Ms Dorries bizarrely took umbrage when the veteran presenter innocuously asked her whether she had spoken to the under-fire PM within the last 24 hours.

“Why are you asking me that?” she snapped back, provoking bafflement on one side and a frosty silence on the other.

Nadine Dorries refuses to say how much she speaks to Boris Johnson in awkward interview

An interview with CNN five days later took to the Dorries brand across the Atlantic and found her declaring that she would be more offended by Mr Johnson kicking a dog than misleading Parliament.

A more recent bungled attempt to defend the PM came after he was booed by royalists on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which she disputed had happened despite clear video evidence captured at the scene.

The cut-and-paste tweet

“As much as I disagree with @AngelaRayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today,” Boris Johnson tweeted on 24 April 2022.

“As much as I disagree with @AngelaRayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today,” Nadine Dorries tweeted the same day.

Football pundit Gary Neville was among the millions who noticed the obvious cut-and-paste job and rightly pronounced it “embarrassing”.

Raps on TikTok to promote the Online Safety Bill

This post on the viral video platform from 27 May was just red-hot cringe all day long and should not be viewed by the faint of heart.

The lyrical sidesteps into bloated legalese disclaimers about Ofcom’s power to issue fines, the lazily chosen GIFs and the self-conscious mic drop at the end are almost uproariously lame.

Accidentally slams government’s own pandemic planning

In one of the great self-owns of our time, Ms Dorries berated the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt for his disloyalty to the PM ahead of the crucial confidence vote into his leadership in a string of tweets on 6 June in which she labelled her own government’s preparation for tackling pandemics pre-Covid “wanting and inadequate”.

Mistakes rugby union for rugby league

Rather like the Channel 4 blunder, Ms Dorries raised serious questions about her suitability for the distinguished position she holds by going to St Helens on 30 June and glorying in the memory of Jonny Wilkinson’s last-minute World Cup-winning drop goal against Australia in 2003.

She could hardly have caused more offence locally had she swaggered into the room and declared Johnny Vegas a mediocre potter.

Nadine Dorries mistakes rugby league for union in awkward gaffe at World Cup event

Accuses Sir Keir Starmer of being ‘boring’

With the government on its knees after the defenestration of Mr Johnson over the Chris Pincher affair and the Conservative leadership candidates at each other’s throats over who was the greater Brexiteer and Thatcherite, Ms Dorries was again at the centre of attention in the Commons for her boorish heckling of the opposition leader.

Just as, with hindsight, Britain might prefer the “chaos” with Ed Miliband that Mr Cameron warned us against in 2015 over the events of the last seven years, might it not be preferable to have a “boring” PM in No. 10 for the foreseeable future if the current unceasing cosmic whirlpool of disaster is what “excitement” looks like?

Argues Liz Truss’s affordable earrings make her leadership material

With the Tory ugly parade to succeed Mr Johnson down to a final two, Ms Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Holmes and Watson of deluded Johnsonism, have firmly backed Liz Truss and made clear they regard Mr Sunak as an arch-plotter against their idol.

Ahead of a key TV debate on 25 July, she took to Twitter to cite the cost of the independently wealthy chancellor’s suit as a reason for his being unfit to govern while championing the foreign secretary’s £4.50 Claire’s Accessories earrings as the stuff of great leadership, an attack as laughably superficial as it was nakedly partisan.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.