Rishi Sunak Set For More By-Election Misery As Suspended Tory MP Faces Commons Ban

Westminster sleaze watchdog says Scott Benton should be kicked out of parliament for 35 days.
Scott Benton in the House of Commons.
Scott Benton in the House of Commons.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via PA Media

Rishi Sunak is facing another damaging by-election defeat, after a sleaze watchdog recommended MP Scott Benton be suspended from parliament.

Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, was caught offering to help gambling industry lobbyists in exchange for money.

He was elected as a Tory but had the party whip suspended following the undercover sting operation by The Times in April

In a report published on Thursday, parliament’s standards commissioner said Benton should be kicked out of parliament for 35 days.

The commissioner said Benton “committed a very serious breach” by “repeatedly indicating his willingness to disregard the House’s rules”.

“His comments gave a false impression of the morality of MPs in a way which, if the public were to accept them as accurate, would be corrosive to respect for Parliament and undermine the foundations of our democracy,” it said.

Recommending a 35-day suspension, the commissioner said the “serious sanction is appropriate” along with a loss of salary.

The punishment needs to be voted on by the whole House of Commons to be enforced.

Under the rules, the length of the suspension means a recall petition could be triggered leading to a by-election in the seat.

Journalists posing on behalf of a fake investment fund filmed Benton offering to leak market sensitive information and ask parliamentary questions on their behalf.

While Benton did not act on the proposal, he agreed with a fee proposed by the reporters in the range of £2,000 to £4,000 a month for two days’ work.

Benton won his seat in 2019 with a majority of 3,690, the red wall constituency had previously been held by Labour since 1997.

Keir Starmer would hope to easily win it back in a by-election, which would be held in the new year.

Sunak has already lost a series of by-elections since becoming prime minister, including Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire in October.


What's Hot