There seems to be some confusion of behalf of the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries MP, who on Monday on BBC News openly demonstrated her misunderstanding of the UK’s constitutional status. This is perhaps indicative of a Cabinet that fundamentally misunderstands and/or actively derides how the UK’s constitution hangs together whilst prioritising the survival of the UK’s chief proponent of ‘strategic lying’, Boris Johnson MP (Gaber & Fisher, 2022).
In a nutshell, Dorries stated that:
“Boris Johnson won a majority of 80+ seats, 14 million people voted for him, he is the Prime Minister, that’s how it works, and that small number of MPs who believe that they should have been Prime Minister is just not appropriate for this action to be taken and for those MPs to be calling a vote.
I’m afraid that the country elected Boris Johnson and he should be there until the next General Election; I think they need to accept that. You know, how could we possibly expect people to go out and vote for us again at any time for the Conservative Party if a small minority of MPs think that they can overrule, repeatedly by the way in our history…the majority vote of the public.”
Those political scholars amongst you will note that what Dorries defined, actually better describes a presidential democratic system, not parliamentary (Lijphart, 1992). To correct the Minister, the UK’s parliamentary system sees voters elect a single MP, from a party with no direct choice of Prime Minister. That is not to say that the party leader does not hold considerable sway over the outcome of an election, but Dorries’ statement was factually inaccurate at worst or just naïve at best for a Cabinet Minister expected to grasp the basics.
Although, readers must remind themselves that this is the same party that appointed Karen Bradley MP as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when she had no clue about Northern Irish politics.
Dorries’ further assertion that “the country elected Boris Johnson and he should be there until the next General Election”, also smacks of sterling hypocrisy. The Minister seems to forget that in 2018, she voted against Theresa May in a confidence vote, again underscoring her inability to grasp the mere concept of consistency. Inadvertently, she has instead cast dispersions on the procedures of the 1922 Committee procedures of her own party, again suggestive of a willingness to fudge the rules and forego her own reputation to further the UK Government’s culture of ‘strategic lying’. These inconsistencies are perhaps not a shining moment for a Minister whose portfolio levels her as champion for counter mis and dis-information.
Ultimately, the Tories just cannot seem to get the basics right, especially when they seem to work within a margin of error wider than the Atlantic, so we should not expect them to get the detail right when it matters.
Gaber, I., & Fisher, C. (2022). “Strategic Lying”: The Case of Brexit and the 2019 U.K. Election. International Journal of Press/Politics, 27(2), 460–477. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161221994100
Lijphart, A. (1992). Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford University Press.