Imagine, if you will, a perfect summer evening, sometime in 2005…
Nadine Dorries is 48-years-old but you’d never guess it from her slim figure and the youthful blush of her complexion. Most evenings, she prefers to be at home, curled up on the sofa with her cat, Maggie, and her inbox. Her Mid Bedfordshire constituents still can’t quite believe that they’ve landed this fragrant flower as their member of parliament (particularly after the scandals that did for her unfortunate predecessor) and she’s determined not to let them down.
But not tonight. Tonight, she’s on the House of Commons terrace. Being one of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition can be a tough deal, but this evening, as she pensively regards the mighty River Thames snaking through the heart of the greatest city in the world, she drinks deeply from her plastic tumbler of lukewarm Jacob’s Creek and sighs. She feels a deep, visceral satisfaction that penetrates right down to her La Senza polycotton matching set.
Suddenly, a golden flash catches her peripheral vision. She turns and instantly her cervix quivers. Who is that man? She’s seen him before. Why does the merest glimpse of him provoke such overwhelming sensations?
The man with the shock of golden hair somehow senses her intense regard. He turns towards her and lazily runs his periwinkle gaze up and down the length of her trembling figure. Desperately, she clutches her tumbler, trying to stay in control. But the vessel crumples, Jacob’s Creek floods her Karen Millen skirt.
The member for Henley (for it is he) is by her side in an instant, proffering a large spotted handkerchief that he’s pulled from a pocket.
“My dear, so sorry,” he murmurs, “It’s Nadine, isn’t it?”
Her confusion only increases – he knows her name! She manages to stammer a reply.
He smiles deeply into her eyes.
“But you can call me Al.”
This is just a flight of fancy, of course. We can find no specific record of the first time that Nadine Dorries met Boris Johnson. But since that meeting, whenever it was, their fates have gradually bound them closer and closer, as inexorably and inevitably as the plot of one of her 16 best-selling romantic novels.
It would be unfair to say that all Dorries’ success has relied upon Johnson. She is seven years older than him and has had a long and noisy political career that only latterly involved being part of his government.
We could list her various faux pas – her parliamentary expenses so murky that the police investigated them, her gobsmacking ignorance of what Brexit actually entailed, her very public humiliation when she showed how little she understood of her brief as culture secretary. But these are all recorded elsewhere. Such a list would fail to convey her quintessential vibe – less ‘grown up politician’ and more ‘uncastrated pitbull in quality tailoring’.
Consider some of her memorable public utterances:
What could it possibly be about well-regarded comedian, Reginald D Hunter that so enraged Dorries, the well-known anti-woke culture warrior?
Let’s not overlook these two from 2008:
Crazy in love
But stanning for Boris Johnson is the role that Dorries was born to play.
When Johnson finally got his grubby mitts on the top job, her advancement through the ranks was assured. She possessed the only qualifications that mattered at that point: she was a Brexit True Believer (if demonstrably not a Brexit True Understander) and would follow Johnson into Hell, if he asked her to.
We could mention her snarling, swaying interviews, defending Johnson when he attempted to distract the House of Commons from partygate by repeating lies about Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile.
We could mention that, during the dying days of the Johnson administration, 59 members of the government resigned in the space of 48 hours – but not Nadine. The culture secretary, as she then was, would not budge from the side of her leader.
If anyone should doubt that she regards Johnson’s departure from Number 10 as a betrayal of the most villainous kind, she tells us that her next book will be not a romance, but a political whodunnit. Its working title is The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson. Subtle, she isn’t.
But in the end, a picture is worth a thousand words. Everyone should have someone who looks at them the way Mad Nads looks at Big Dog.
And how he has rewarded her – arise Baroness Pitbull!
All you do to me is talk talk
And so, we come full circle. We started in the realms of fantasy and we end up right back there.
Nadine and Boris on the TV,
There is a certain grim inevitability to Dorries landing a chat show on TalkTV. And there is even more inevitability to her first guest being… Boris Johnson.
His appearance on the show has only stoked the current swirling speculation that he wants his old job back. He has been writing muscular articles about Russia in the Daily Mail, he has popped up in the Derbyshire Dales and Oxfordshire, sniffing about for a safer seat than his current one of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. And he recently visited – of course he did – President Zelensky in Ukraine, for no reason that anybody can fathom.
News of the interview left many people underwhelmed.
The pre-recorded love-in was eked out in small portions throughout Dorries’ show on Friday evening. It was surprisingly charmless. There wasn’t much material and any chemistry between the two shrivelled under the full-on glare of the studio lights.
It was drearily predictable stuff. Johnson mostly trotted out his greatest hits, re-packaged for the occasion. Sir Crasheroonie Snoozefest made several appearances, while vaccines and Ukraine were repeated on loop. Along with other pathognomonic examples of Johnsonian magical thinking:
“Anybody who thinks I was knowingly going to parties that were breaking lockdown rules in No 10, and then knowingly covering up parties…they’re out of their mind.”
“…it is literally true that Brexit helped save lives…”
Dorries meanwhile was tenderly concerned that Johnson had perhaps been too focussed on saving lives during Covid. Later, she giggled winsomely as he elaborated on the anatomy of cows.
The ex-prime minister has been very busy lately. There is a worry that he has neglected his constituency work while tax payers cough up for his non-governmental trips to Ukraine and his partygate legal bills. Thank goodness he was able to reassure us all on that score.
“Unless I specifically tell you otherwise, I’m doing stuff for Uxbridge.”
So that’s all right then.
Regardless of the viewing figures, the interview undoubtedly had impact – who doesn’t love a good rom-com? – so TalkTV will be happy. And Dorries will also be satisfied with her debut.
But if the vox pops recorded by Byline TV are anything go by, her constituents feel rather differently.