Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, has spoken of receiving death threats after the former Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed she was aligned to a plot to control the top of the Conservative party.
Badenoch said death threats had intensified since the publication of Dorries’ book The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson, which claims a sinister cabal called “the movement” has “set out to control the destiny of the Conservative party” for 25 years.
In an interview with the Times, Badenoch said: “She [Dorries] thinks she’s just writing stuff, but people who have that kind of mindset latch on to it.
“If you get the unhelpful coalition of mental health issues and propensity to violence, then you read the Nadine Dorries conspiracy theory and decide you want to kill someone, it’s very, very nasty.”
Badenoch is a political ally of Michael Gove, who is portrayed by Dorries as being part of the plot along with a Conservative aide, Dougie Smith, and the former adviser to Johnson, Dominic Cummings.
However, the business secretary suggested in the interview that her friendship with Gove had suffered recently. “He did something that was very, very annoying,” she said. Asked whether it had ended their friendship, she said: “It’s not what it used to be, but he’s somebody I have to work with.”
The business secretary also complained that she was portrayed by Dorries as a puppet of Gove “as if I have no thoughts and no opinions of my own”, adding: “Like they’re saying: ‘She’s not that bright. It’s some man who is doing this.’”
In relation to the idea that she was manipulated by powerful men, Badenoch said her husband, Hamish, was more of an influence. “If there’s somebody who is doing that, wouldn’t it be the person who goes to bed with me every night and pays for my home and so on? Hamish is a huge influence on how I do things. Which I think is right, because this job affects his life.”
Dorries later tweeted to say Badenoch was “obsessing” over her book and had wrongly characterised an exchange between them, after the business secretary claimed she was approached by Dorries to be London mayor instead of running for leader.
The former Tory MP said she had texted Badenoch after she was knocked out of the leadership race to pass on a message about the mayoralty from a donor.
She added: “In The Plot, the assertion is made that Rishi was only ever a stopgap. That Kemi was the project. Kemi didn’t need the help.
“She knew, whoever won, Rishi or Liz, they were just the caretaker until her closest friend, Dougie Smith and mentor and the rest of the plotters were ready to pop her into place. And, that is exactly what is happening before your very eyes right now and you heard it first in The Plot.”
Dorries’ book has been serialised in the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. She is a staunch ally of Johnson, and the book claims the cabal ousted him from No 10 and also “brought down Iain Duncan Smith as party leader, created havoc for Theresa May and undermined Liz Truss”.
According to excerpts in the paper, Dorries wrote that after Johnson made Cummings his chief of staff, the “movement” instigated its plan to replace the prime minister after his December 2019 election victory as he had already served his purpose by winning an 80-seat majority.