Nadine Dorries has been told to “wind her neck in” by Welsh secretary Robert Buckland making “distasteful” and “dangerous” interventions on behalf of Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest.

The Culture Secretary has faced a backlash after penning a “divisive, disingenuous” column on why she had mocked Rishi Sunak over his expensive taste in clothing, and for retweeting a doctored image showing Mr Sunak stabbing Boris Johnson in the back.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Dorries said she “may have gone slightly over the top” last week by comparing the millionaire former chancellor’s £3,500 suit to Ms Truss’s £4.50 earrings from high street chain Claire’s.

“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,” she wrote.

“The assassin’s gleaming smile, his gentle voice and even his diminutive stature had many of us well and truly fooled”.

Ms Dorries accused Mr Sunak of travelling “along a path of treachery” and planning a “Tudoresque” coup against the Prime Minister.

The Culture Secretary, a staunch loyalist of Mr Johnson, also retweeted an image depicting him as Julius Caesar about to be stabbed by a knife-wielding Mr Sunak, suggesting Mr Sunak had betrayed the Prime Minister when he resigned as chancellor.

Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland, a supporter of Mr Sunak, denounced Ms Dorries’ behaviour.

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

“I think it’s time for those who think that an argument about Prada shoes or earrings is more important, for instance, should wind their neck in and let people talk about the issues rather than the personality”.

Business minister Greg Hands condemned Ms Dorries’ actions as “distasteful” and “dangerous” in the wake of the killing of Southend West Tory MP Sir David Amess at a constituency surgery in Essex last October.

He told Sky News: “I’m sure Liz Truss would disown this kind of behaviour.

“I think this is appalling.

“Look, it’s not even a year since the stabbing of Sir David Amess at his Southend constituency surgery, so I think this is very, very bad taste, dangerous even”.

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Mr Hands, who is backing Mr Sunak in the race for No 10, added: “I do find it distasteful”.

Senior Conservative MP Simon Hoare took to Twitter to criticise Ms Dorries, who as the culture secretary has been responsible for steering the UK wide online safety bill through Parliament.

“Your comments are divisive, disingenuous & disturbing. @trussliz needs to stop this. It’s harmful to our Party,” he said.

“Remembering, with respect, our fallen colleagues David Amess and Jo Cox. The injured Stephen Timms. I will just leave it there”.

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