Nadine Dorries said she hates people saying she must “fancy” Boris Johnson, as the Tory MP rejected the idea that she was anything other than friends with the former prime minister.
The ex-culture secretary said Mr Johnson was someone she could call “in the middle of the night” and talks with for hours – but insisted she is as close to Carrie Johnson as she is to her husband.
Ms Dorries also suggested Mr Johnson would have to become rich before launching his political comeback, because being PM is difficult “unless you are a multimillionaire”.
“He will be back. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I don’t know whether it will be 10 years or 10 months,” the loyal ally told The House magazine.
“I used to say that to be a prime minister you need to be rich because it costs you a lot of money,” she said. “It is part of the role to invite people to Chequers, but you have to pay for every cup of tea served out of your own pocket.”
The former cabinet minister added: “So unless you are a multimillionaire, it is a problem.”
On her friendship with the former PM, she said: “I could ring Boris in the middle of the night if I had a problem and I know he would be there for hours talking to me. I had breakfast with him the other morning. Him and Carrie, I would count them both as good friends.”
She added: “I hate the whole: ‘Oh she must fancy him’. I mean, I am a grandmother! Get over it. I’m a grandmother and, actually, I love Carrie as much as I love Boris.”
Ms Dorries is said to be on the former prime minister’s list of nominations for peerages, along with fellow Tory MPs Alok Sharma, Alister Jack and Nigel Adams.
“I was told I would probably get a letter if I was nominated, asking me whether I would be inclined to accept it. I haven’t received one,” said Ms Dorries, who refused to say whether she would resign her Mid Bedfordshire seat and enter the upper chamber. “I will make the decision if I ever get the offer.”
Ms Dorries also warned Rishi Sunak’s government not to delay or water down her Online Safety Bill, aimed at regulating Twitter and the social media giants in a bid to prevent harmful behaviour.
“There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why the bill needs to be altered in any way. Mainly because all of the difficult and contentious stages of the bill, including legal but harmful, have already been passed. It’s already through. Our own party voted for it,” she said.
The Sunak government has delayed progress with the bill, while senior Tories have questioned attempts to define “legal but harmful” content over freedom of speech principles.
Criticising her successor Michelle Donelan, who has said she does not want the bill to impact on free speech, Ms Dorries added: “Michelle has been in the job five minutes and does not understand enough about it.”
The Tory MP also revealed that senior figures – including Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden – told her not to bother pushing on with the legislation.
“I can tell you what Oliver Dowden [her predecessor at the department] said to me when I took over the job. He said: ‘This is a horrible bill, kick it into the long grass’.”
Asked about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and what that could mean for online safety, she said: “He’s a father.
“And as a father, I would think that you would possibly understand the dangers that the internet can present to children and young people.”