The Conservatives have been controlled for 20 years by a cabal known as the “movement”, which brought down Boris Johnson as prime minister, Nadine Dorries has claimed in the latest extract from her new book.
The former culture secretary said the group, which she alleged included levelling up secretary Michael Gove, Mr Johnson’s ex-chief of staff Dominic Cummings and an adviser called Dougie Smith, also toppled Iain Duncan Smith as leader and undermined Liz Truss.
In the book, The Plot: the Political Assassination, Ms Dorries quotes Mr Johnson describing an “unexpected and fairly unpleasant” phone call with Mr Smith in 2021 in which he told the former PM to quit because he was “poison like Nixon”.
According to the excerpts, being serialised in the Daily Mail, the former prime minister said: “I remember where I was when the call came; I was upstairs in the flat in the kitchen ... he said, ‘I think you should go, you should stand down now and we may let you come back again one day. You are poison, like Nixon. If you don’t go, I’m going to take you down. I’ll finish you off.’”
Mr Cummings responded to the allegations sarcastically, telling the Mail: “She’s right, there was a giant conspiracy including MI6, the CIA and, most crucially, the KGB special operations department. It’s a tribute to Nadine she has figured this out. The movement wishes her well.”
A source close to Mr Gove added: “Nadine is a very talented bestselling fiction author.” Friends also insisted he “played no part” in recruiting Mr Cummings to No 10 and rejected the idea he helped to bring down a series of Tory leaders as “a conspiracy theory worthy of Piers Corbyn”.
Ms Dorries dramatically quit as an MP earlier this year accusing Rishi Sunak of blocking a peerage for her in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.
She also quotes a source who said “the movement” was “furious” Mr Johnson won an 80-seat majority in the 2019 general election.
The source said: “It was plainly obvious that Friday morning, the day after the election victory in December 2019, they [the movement] were furious.
“Boris had won too big. They felt like the confidence that gave him would make it more difficult to control him and, in a way, they were right. Boris constantly pushed back against all of them; and that made them both determined and furious.”
Ms Dorries wrote: “In 2019 they needed Boris to save them from all the harm they had been responsible for. The person they had actually lined up to be PM, Rishi, just wasn’t ready, but once Boris was in and had given them a big majority, it was time to get him out. He had served his purpose.”
Ms Dorries also wrote that negative briefings about Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie, were part of the strategy to destabilise the then prime minister as they viewed her “as a barrier to their plan for total control”.