NADINE Dorries has sparked a fresh row among the Conservatives after she shared an image showing Rishi Sunak stabbing Boris Johnson in the back.

At the same time, the Culture Secretary also openly accused Sunak of being the “chatty rat”, the nickname the tabloids gave the insider who briefed the media on top secret plans for England’s second national Covid lockdown.

Dorries’s intervention came in response to a post from Sun journalist Harry Cole, who had written on Twitter: “Any update on the chatty rat leak? What happened to that guy?”

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An anonymous account with pro-Johnson messaging in its description replied: “He is running to become PM. His name is @RishiSunak.”

This message was accompanied by a photoshopped image showing Sunak (as Brutus) preparing to stab Johnson (as Julius Caesar) in the back. Dorries “re-tweeted” the post.

The National:

The violent imagery has been condemned as inappropriate, “especially given two MPs in recent times have been murdered by extremists”.

In October 2021, Tory MP David Amess was fatally stabbed by a terrorist, and in June 2016 Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a white supremacist.

The Liberal Conservatives campaign group wrote on Twitter: “No MP should be re-tweeting a post like this, especially a Cabinet Minister and especially given two MPs in recent times have been murdered by extremists.

“@NadineDorries should delete this. This is not how we should conduct our politics or discourse.”

This post was in turn re-tweeted by Tory MP for North Dorset Simon Hoare, a supporter of Sunak.

Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland, another Sunak supporter, also denounced Dorries.

“I think that sort of imagery and narrative is not just incendiary, it’s wrong,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

He added that people using rhetoric like Dorries "should wind their neck in".

Asked about the post, Energy Minister Greg Hands said: "I find it, less a year after the stabbing of our colleague David Amess, in very, very poor taste, even verging on dangerous."

Hoare commented: "Remembering, with respect, our fallen colleagues David Amess and Jo Cox. The injured Stephen Timms. I will just leave it there."

In May 2010, Labour MP Timms was wounded after being stabbed by an Islamic extremist while at a constituency surgery.

Hoare further criticised the Culture Secretary for an article written for the Daily Mail in which she appeared to walk back on controversial comments about Sunak’s expensive choice in suits.

Dorries wrote that her “comments were widely interpreted to be anti-aspirational and it was suggested that I was seeking revenge against the man who, while chancellor, had been planning a coup for a very long time and who had ruthlessly and metaphorically stabbed Boris Johnson in the back”.

She further compared Sunak to Brutus, as the picture she retweeted had also done, labelling him an “assassin”.

The Culture Secretary wrote: “I wanted to highlight Rishi’s misguided sartorial style in order to alert Tory members not to be taken in by appearances in the way that happened to many of us who served with the chancellor in Cabinet. The assassin’s gleaming smile, his gentle voice and even his diminutive stature had many of us well and truly fooled.”

Hoare responded to the article, saying: “If [Liz Truss] is serious in her desire to reunite our party she must call this out and condemn it. Silence can only = ‘I approve this message’. ‘It’s only Nadine being Nadine’ simply won’t do/wash.

"Let’s try and keep this contest classy. We do have a country to lead/govern."

Truss, who has the support of Dorries in her bid to replace Johnson in No 10, is the clear favourite to take over once the result of a Tory membership ballot is announced on September 5.

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Referring to a line in which Dorries said she “may have gone slightly over the top” with the attack on Sunak’s suit, Hoare added: “No ‘may have’ about it. It was anti-aspirational. This ‘apology’ has a whiff of prejudice about it.

“The faux ‘what I really meant’ history rewrite is depressing. Your comments are divisive, disingenuous and disturbing. @trussliz needs to stop this. It’s harmful to our party.”

The Culture Secretary was also called out by Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, who wrote on Twitter that he was "becoming increasingly frustrated – and, tbh, put off – by the negative blue-on-blue attacks by (particularly) Nadine Dorries. And I know others are too. It needs to stop."