Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Dorries claims PM is being ‘played’ as party ‘grooming’ Kemi Badenoch to takeover

Boris Johnson has labelled the prime minister a “stooge” in an interview for Nadine Dorries’ new book The Plot, which is released today.

Dorries has also suggested that the secretive cabal she has identified in her new book is “grooming” Kemi Badenoch to be a future party leader. 

Referring to Dougie Smith, a No 10 insider and husband of Johnson’s former policy chief Munira Mirza, she said: “He’s already … grooming the person to take over from Rishi Sunak”.

Pressed on who that person was, Dorries added: “Kemi Badenoch”.

Asked on TalkTV if the prime minister is in danger of facing a leadership challenge, Dorries said Sunak “doesn’t realise he’s been totally played and totally used”. 

She said: “I’m sure Rishi is a very good and honourable person. But he was very politically naive. … The thing about Rishi is he’s like a boy band member on auto tune, isn’t he? He’s got the looks, he’s got the suit, he’s got the background, he’s got the money, he fits all the demographic. But he was very politically naive”.

“And these people have just captured him”, she added.

On Kemi Badenoch, Dorries also quotes a source saying: “[Michael Gove] has been a big part of the plan to nuke Boris forever, and here he was in no way benefiting from all of his plotting and meddling. 

“He’s also been building up Kemi Badenoch as the next leader of the Conservative Party, because that was part of the plan and it still is. He’s been mentoring Kemi for a long time, possibly, originally, at Dougie’s behest.”

Dorries’ book, The Plot: the Political Assassination of Boris Johnson, finally released on Thursday, describes a secret Conservative clique called “the movement” which includes among its members cabinet member Michael Gove, former adviser Dominic Cummings, and Dougie Smith.

Dorries also interviewed former prime minister Boris Johnson for her book. He told his long-term ally: “I heard that Cummings has said he started to plot to get rid of me in January 2020. … The plot was always to get Rishi in. I just couldn’t see it at the time. It’s like this Manchurian candidate, their stooge.”

He added: “People still feel hacked off. They voted for change in 2019 and they are drifting back to Labour in those Brexit seats because they’re not seeing a changed government. Nothing to rally behind, nothing; we are just drifting into defeat”

“The whole thing needs a massive kick in the pants … unless we grip it, the results of the local elections will be repeated at a general election, and Starmer will be a complete disaster … I feel a massive, massive sense of frustration that we had an eighty-seat majority. We had a fantastic agenda. We could have kept the whole thing going.”

Johnson is also quoted as saying: “We just aren’t doing enough to fix our energy supply problems, we aren’t doing enough to build nuclear reactors. HS2 has become a total joke. Levelling up has been all but forgotten. What’s happening to gigabit broadband? I don’t hear and don’t know what’s happening to all the infrastructure stuff. We hear nothing on skills. 

“The whole social care reform has been junked and so much work went into that. Leave Brexit to one side, there was a massive agenda we had as a government to transform the country, and it doesn’t seem to be happening in any form of articulated way. I’m particularly concerned that there’s no grand economic strategy for growth. Why? Where is the vision for the country?”

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