Agence France Presse
Published — Thursday 8 November 2012
Last update 8 November 2012 7:14 am
LONDON: A British lawmaker was suspended by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party on Tuesday for leaving work to take part in a reality television show in the Australian jungle.
Nadine Dorries, 55, flew to Brisbane in preparation for “I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!,” in which contestants are forced to endure physical ordeals such as eating tarantulas and kangaroo meat.
The program runs for three weeks from Sunday. Though parliament has next week off, it returns on Nov. 18 and she is due to miss votes in the lower House of Commons.
A Conservative Party spokesman said that Chief Whip George Young, who is in charge of party discipline, “has suspended the whip from Nadine Dorries. He will have an urgent meeting with her when she gets back.
“The concern is that she will not be doing parliamentary or constituency business in the meantime.”
Other Conservative lawmakers and people in her constituency had expressed concerns about her taking part in the show.
Dorries had earlier defended her decision to take part in the show.
“I’m doing the show because 16 million people watch it. Rather than MPs talking to other MPs about issues in Parliament, I think MPs should be going to where people go,” the Daily Mail newspaper quoted Dorries as saying.
Asked whether she feared a backlash for abandoning her post, she said: “I worked right up until I left the UK for Australia.”
Outspoken Dorries, who represents Mid Bedfordshire in southeast England, is not a favorite of Cameron’s, having called him and finance minister George Osborne “two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk.”
Cameron had to apologize to Dorries last year after describing her as “extremely frustrated” during a parliamentary exchange.
On the show, Dorries will be sleeping under the stars with former soap actors, sportsmen and entertainers. Besides a rumored appearance fee of £40,000 (50,000 euros, $64,000), the show has also been seen by celebrities as a useful way to boost a flagging public profile.
Dorries earns more than £65,000 as an MP.
Now in its 12th series, previous winners of “I’m a Celebrity...” include former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s daughter Carol and ex-England cricketer Phil Tufnell.
Left-wing firebrand George Galloway, who runs his own Respect Party having been expelled from the Labour party, is the only serving MP to have taken part in a reality television show.
Six years ago he appeared in “Celebrity Big Brother,” in which he had to do robotics in a lycra outfit and impersonate a cat lapping up imaginary milk.