Chris Pincher Has Conservative Party Whip Withdrawn

He faces allegations of groping two men after having had “far too much” to drink.
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UK Parliament via PA Media

Chris Pincher has had the Conservative whip withdrawn following allegations he groped two men after having had “far too much” to drink.

The announcement came from Downing Street after Boris Johnson had initially tried to stand by the former deputy chief whip.

However, amid mounting pressure from Tory MPs, a Number 10 spokesman confirmed that Pincher’s party membership was being suspended pending an investigation into his behaviour by parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS, the PM has agreed with the Chief Whip that the whip should be suspended from Chris Pincher, while the investigation is ongoing. We will not pre-judge that investigation.

“We urge colleagues and the media to respect that process.”

Pincher resigned from his government post maintaining discipline among Conservative MPs on Thursday evening.

He has been accused of sexually assaulting two male guests at the Carlton Club – a Tory Party private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly.

In a letter to the PM, he said: “Pincher said he had “embarrassed myself and other people” after having had “far too much” to drink.

During a briefing for journalists this morning, a Number 10 spokesman insisted the prime minister had not been aware of any “specific allegations” against Pincher before making his deputy chief whip in February.

“There was no basis to stop the appointment in the absence of any formal complaint,” he said.

The spokesperson said Pincher could not be blocked from being given a job on the basis of “unsubstantiated allegations”.

It is the second time Pincher has quit the whips office. He resigned as a junior whip in November 2017 following a complaint that he made an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.

Downing Street had initially said Pincher had done the right thing by resigning, but said he would keep the Tory whip.

However, this sparked fury from Conservative MPs, who said the Tamworth MP should have his party membership removed as well.

Some compared the situation to Neil Parish, the former Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, who had the whip removed and ultimately resigned his seat after admitting watching porn in the Commons.

One former minister said: “MPs can’t see difference between this and Neil Parish situation in terms of consequences.”

Asked if Pincher should lose the whip, another Tory MP said: “Yes. He should never have been appointed to that role. A time bomb waiting to go off.”

Two female Tory MPs, select committee chairs Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, also wrote to the PM demanding Pincher have the whip removed.

They said: “Recent incidents have demonstrated an inconsistent and unclear approach by the party to instances of sexual misconduct,” they wrote.

“The party and, by extension, the government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach.

“We urge you to act swiftly to introduce a code of conduct for all Conservative members of parliament which is clear in terms of the expectations of behaviour and which can be applied in a fair, independent manner so as to avoid any suspicion of bias.”

They added: “In the meantime we ask that you employ a policy of zero tolerance on these issues and to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out in each and every case.

“Once an investigation has been completed, a decision should be taken about returning the whip, but in the meantime, anyone subject to such an investigation should not be allowed to sit as a Conservative MP and represent the party in any capacity.”

Even Neil Parish weighed in to accuse the Tories of double standards.

In his resignation letter, Pincher said: “Last night I drank far too much. I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and to those concerned.

“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as deputy chief whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.

“I want to assure you that you will continue to have my full support from the back benches. It has been the honour of my life to have served in Her Majesty’s Government.”

He has been replaced as deputy chief whip by Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Boris Johnson has been dragged kicking and screaming into taking any action at all.

“He just can’t be trusted to do the right thing. This whole scandal is yet more evidence of his appalling judgement.

“It’s time for Conservative MPs to show this chaotic prime minister the door before he can do any more damage.”

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