Rishi Sunak is facing the prospect of another nightmare by-election after MPs voted to suspend Peter Bone from parliament for six weeks.
The move comes after a Westminster probe found him guilty of “many varied acts of bullying” and “sexual misconduct”.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said the former minister had committed the offences against a member of his staff in 2012 and 2013.
“The bullying involved violence, shouting and swearing, mocking, belittling and humiliating behaviour, and ostracism,” the IEP said.
“This wilful pattern of bullying also included an unwanted incident of sexual misconduct, when the complainant was trapped in a room with the respondent in a hotel in Madrid.
“This was a deliberate and conscious abuse of power using a sexual mechanism: indecent exposure.”
Their recommendation of a six-week suspension from the Commons was endorsed in a vote by MPs this evening.
It means that a recall petition will be held in Bone’s Wellingborough constituency.
If it is backed by 10% of registered voters in the seat, a by-election will be held.
Bone has denied the allegations and appealed the IEP’s initial decision, but it was dismissed.
In a statement last week, he said: “None of the misconduct allegations against me ever took place. They are false and untrue claims. They are without foundation.”
Bone, who has been stripped of the Tory whip, retained Wellingborough with a 18,540 majority in 2019, but Labour and the Lib Dems have both overturned larger majorities at by-elections since then.
The prominent Brexiteer has been the MP for the seat since 2005 and briefly served in government as deputy leader of the Commons under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.