NEWS
15/06/2018 17:54 BST | Updated 09/02/2019 12:50 GMT

Who Is Christopher Chope, The MP Who Derailed The FGM Bill?

This is not the first time he has hit the headlines.

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Christopher Chope was called a “total irrelevance and yesterday’s guy” by his Tory colleagues.

Sir Christopher Chope has a reputation for derailing his colleague’s attempts to change the law – just as he did on Friday when he shouted “object!” to a proposal that would have toughened up sanctions on female genital mutilation.

The bill, tabled by Lord Berkeley, would amend the Children Act to allow the courts to issue protection orders if they think a child is at risk of FGM.

It’s not the first time Chope has trampled on best-laid plans.  In June last year, he hit the headlines for blocking another private members’ bill – proposed legislation that can be tabled by any MP or peer – that would have made upskirting a sexual offence.

And the Christchurch MP used the same Commons session to delay another government-backed bill, which would have made it an offence to attack police dogs or horses, or prison officer dogs.

Parliamentary rules mean it only requires one MP to shout “object” to block a bill’s progress once time for debate has concluded at 2.30pm on a Friday.

Chope’s actions have been widely criticised and his Conservative colleagues are among those speaking out against him. 

On Friday, he was called out by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, who said he was “outraged” at the backbencher’s actions and that Chope was “wrong, pure and simple”.

Last year, Tory MPs took to WhatsApp to vent their frustrations, with one calling him a “total irrelevance and yesterday’s guy”.

So who is he?

Chope, who was born in Putney, has been an MP for over 25 years. He was educated at the prestigious Marlborough College, before attending Queen’s College at the University of St Andrews. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1972.

A Eurosceptic, he has held various positions within the Conservative party. He has been MP for Christchurch since 1997 but prior to that he was the MP for Southampton Itchen between 1983 and 1992 before losing his seat to Labour.

His decision to block the upskirting bill was not the first time he had hit the headlines. 

In 2009 the father-of-two was caught up in the expenses scandal when it was revealed that he had claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses, including £881 to repair a sofa.

That same year, he called for the minimum wage to be abolished, arguing that it would decrease unemployment.

He came under fire again in 2013 for referring to some of the staff in the House of Commons as “servants”.

Later that year he voted against the legislation for same-sex marriage.

Also that year, he was one of four MPs who camped outside an office in Parliament for four nights in order to highjack an obscure parliamentary procedure to table 42 bills, which formed what they called an “Alternative Queen’s Speech”.

Among the proposals were the reintroduction of the death penalty and conscription, privatising the BBC and banning the burka in public places.

They also wanted to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”.

In 2014 Chope along with six other Conservative MPs voted against the Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill. 

He is known for blocking and filibustering of bills including raising an eleventh-hour objection to the Hillsborough debate taking place, objecting to the second reading of the Alan Turing Bill to grant him a pardon and repeatedly blocking a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances.

Chope, a private landlord, filibustered a bill which had cross party support intended to make revenge evictions an offence

In 2015, joined fellow Tory MPs Philip Davies and David Nuttall in extended speeches, known as a filibuster, against a private member’s bill that would have placed restrictions on hospital parking charges for carers, causing the bill to run out of time.