LONDON - UK member of parliament Nadine Dorries has delivered a scathing attack on her Conservative Party's leader Rishi Sunak in her formal resignation letter, accusing the prime minister of running a "zombie parliament" and lacking any political vision.
Dorries, a close ally of former leader Boris Johnson, had announced in June she would quit and then faced mounting criticism for not actually doing so, preventing the election to replace her from being held alongside three other local votes last month.
Dorries formally quit late on Saturday with a lengthy resignation letter that tore into Sunak. The by-election to replace her will likely take place in the autumn, presenting the Conservatives with another test of their popularity when they are trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
"Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie parliament where nothing meaningful has happened. What exactly has been done or have you achieved?," said Dorries.
"You hold the office of prime minister unelected, without a single vote, not even from your own MPs. You have no mandate from the people and the government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?"
A spokesperson for Sunak declined to comment.
A former finance minister and investment banker, Sunak became prime minister in October last year after being the only candidate to be nominated in a party leadership contest. That followed a series of scandals that forced Johnson to resign as prime minister, and economic turmoil that prompted his successor, Liz Truss, to quit after just six weeks.
Sunak has tried to use his technocratic leadership to restore his party's credibility. But with high inflation, economic stagnation, industrial unrest and long waiting times to use the state-run health service, his Conservatives are far behind Labour in polls ahead of an election expected next year.
By-election votes are considered one of few remaining opportunities to gauge public support before that election. In July, Sunak's Conservatives lost two strategically important parliamentary seats but unexpectedly retained Johnson's old constituency in a setback for Labour.
"In your impatience to become prime minister you put your personal ambition above the stability of the country and our economy," said Dorries.
"Bewildered, we look in vain for the grand political vision for the people of this great country to hold on to, that would make all this disruption and subsequent inertia worthwhile, and we find absolutely nothing."
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Frances Kerry)