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Chris Pincher should lose whip over groping allegations, Cabinet minister hints


Chris Pincher, the Tory MP for Tamworth – PA

A Cabinet minister has hinted they believe Chris Pincher should lose the Tory whip after he resigned as deputy chief whip following claims that he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club in London.

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, would not be drawn directly on whether Mr Pincher should have taken the whip away and said ultimately it is a matter for Chris Heaton-Harris, the Chief Whip.

But he said he does have his own view and “you can probably tell what is just from the way I am sort of trying to avoid answering your question”.

In a hint that action could have been taken later today, Mr Hart told Sky News: “Let’s play today, let the Chief Whip do his duty today, and then I think we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on . ”

Mr Pincher said in a resignation letter sent to Boris Johnson last night that he “drank far too much” at an event on Wednesday evening and had “embarrassed myself and other people”.

Labor has called for Mr Pincher to be stripped of the Tory whip. If a by-election was triggered in his Tamworth seat, it would heap fresh political pressure on Mr Johnson, who has faced renewed calls to stand down after losing two Tory seats last month.

Follow the latest updates below.

10:24 AM

PM ‘confident’ Tory leadership rules will not be changed

Allies of Boris Johnson have said the Prime Minister is confident the Tory leadership rules will not be changed to allow another confidence vote to take place this year.

The PM is said to believe the one year grace period when he cannot be challenged will stay in place because changing the rule would weaken any potential successor.

A source close to Mr Johnson said: “If the rules were changed, every leader for evermore would have a gun to their head.

“They would never be able to get on with anything, as they would be constantly beholden to the whims of MPs.”

09:57 AM

Labor stops short of calling for Chris Pincher to quit as MP

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, stopped short of calling for Chris Pincher to resign as an MP.

Ms Cooper said the whip should be suspended as a “first step”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “We need to know the full truth about what has happened and what the allegations are.

“But I think that’s the first step that needs to take place. And I think the idea that the Conservatives can try and simply dismiss this is just unacceptable.

“They have to show they take this kind of thing more seriously. Time and again, Boris Johnson just doesn’t. That is not good enough. This is about standards in public life. ”

09:51 AM

Yvette Cooper: Chris Pincher should have whip suspended

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said Chris Pincher should have the Tory whip suspended over claims he drunkenly groped two men.

Ms Cooper also said Boris Johnson and the Government’s response to the allegations had been a “total disgrace”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “These allegations are really serious. This is about sexual assault. It comes obviously after we’ve had the Wakefield and Tiverton by-elections, which were also as a result of serious incidents involving Conservative MPs.

“So, the idea that the response that we’ve seen that the Prime Minister thinks he’s done the decent thing by resigning, there’s no need for an investigation, well, that’s a total disgrace.”

Ms Cooper said that “there has to be a full investigation” and Mr Pincher “should have the whip suspended while that investigation takes place.”

09:25 AM

PM on grammar schools: ‘Competition is a damn fine thing’

Currently there is a ban on new grammar schools opening in England but existing ones are allowed to expand. Some Tory MPs are campaigning to lift the ban.

Boris Johnson has now hinted he could be persuaded on the issue as he said he is “in favor of academic competition”.

He told LBC Radio: “Look, I’ve always been in favor of academic competition and many schools now have policies of selective admission in sixth forms… I’m not against that in principle. All I would say is that what I want is good schools everywhere. “

The PM said that “competition is a damn fine thing” and as long as “you encourage competition in a way that doesn’t make everybody who fails feel totally miserable, you’ll get some pretty good results”.

09:15 AM

Boris Johnson pours cold water on the idea of ​​early election

Boris Johnson has previously refused to rule out calling an early general election.

But he has now appeared to pour cold water on the idea.

Boris Johnson addresses a press conference at the end of a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Anadolu Agency

Boris Johnson addresses a press conference at the end of a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday – Anadolu Agency

Told during an interview with LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari that it would be “ridiculous” to hold an early election, Mr Johnson said: “Totally, totally.”

Mr Johnson then said he would not comment on the issue any further as he said it is his job to “talk about the government’s agenda”.

09:07 AM

‘No reason’ to bring back Covid restrictions

Covid case numbers are on the rise across the UK and Boris Johnson was asked if there are any circumstances in which the Government would reimpose restrictions.

He told LBC Radio: “I think that we see no reason for that. At the moment, the most important thing is vaccination.”

Asked how high case numbers would need to go to force the Government to change tack, the PM said: “We’re not seeing the types of pressures on the medical services that would lead us to anything like that, but my message to people is what I’ve said before: get vaccinated. “

09:02 AM

PM refuses to comment on tree house claims

Boris Johnson faced complaints in June that he had planned to build a £ 150,000 tree house in the grounds of his Chequers country residence for his son Wilf. Mr Johnson declined to deny the report at the time.

He was asked about the claims during an interview with LBC Radio, conducted yesterday and broadcast this morning, and he refused to be drawn on the issue.

Mr Johnson said he was “not going to comment on things in my family life”.

08:55 AM

Further fuel duty cut is a ‘possibility’

Rishi Sunak unveiled a temporary 5p cut to fuel duty back in March this year but he has faced growing calls to go further as prices at the pump continue to soar.

Boris Johnson has now said he is not ruling out a further cut and suggested it is a “possibility”. However, the way in which the PM made the comments would suggest it is not likely.

He told LBC Radio he is “not going to comment on further fiscal measures” that Mr Sunak could announced.

Asked if it is a possibility, the PM said: “You know, logically speaking, everything that I don’t rule out, such as the moon is made of green cheese is a… you know, there are all sorts of things that I ‘I’m not going to rule out.’

He added: “Yeah, it’s a possibility, that Elvis will be reincarnated as, you know, Nick Ferrari or whatever.”

08:50 AM

Putin has ‘considerable margin of manoeuvre’

Vladimir Putin has “considerable margin of manoeuvre” to back down over the Ukraine war, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister said Mr Putin “enjoys very considerable levels of public support at the moment in Russia” and that would give him space to bring the invasion to an end.

He told LBC Radio: “He has, I think, considerable margin of manoeuvre, political margin of manoeuvre, to say, look, you know, I went in, I had to achieve certain things, and it will be up to him to specify what he thought those were, but in the interests of peace, in the interest of the world, I think the time has come now to bring the technical military operation to an end, and to withdraw and to seek a new arrangement. That I think is what he should do. ”

08:49 AM

PM: Ukraine war can end with Putin still in the Kremlin

Boris Johnson said he believes the Ukraine war can end with Vladimir Putin still in the Kremlin.

The UK Government has long-stressed it is not seeking regime change in Russia.

Mr Johnson was asked if the Ukraine conflict has to end with the Russian President out of power.

He said “no, of course not” and suggested it could still be possible to negotiate a peace with Mr Putin.

08:48 AM

PM: West must ignore Putin’s ‘saber-rattling’

Boris Johnson gave an interview to LBC Radio at the end of the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday and it has just been broadcast.

He was asked if he had any estimates for how many threats there have been from Vladimir Putin to deploy some form of nuclear weapon during the Ukraine war.

Boris Johnson is pictured leaving the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Getty Images Europe / WPA Pool & nbsp;

Boris Johnson is pictured leaving the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday – Getty Images Europe / WPA Pool

Mr Johnson said: “Well, there’s an analysis that I think has been done by somebody recently, a think tank, that they’re looking at about 35 mentions or maybe it’s a little bit more now, of that issue.

“But I think it’s very, very important that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be side-tracked by this kind of sabre-rattling, because fundamentally, what Putin is trying to do is to reframe this. It’s about Russia versus NATO. It’s about, you know, a stand-off of that kind. It’s not. ”

08:46 AM

Cabinet minister hints Chris Pincher should lose Tory whip

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, was asked a number of times if Chris Pincher should lose the Tory whip.

He would not be drawn directly, telling Sky News: “That is a matter for Chris Heaton-Harris, his boss. This only really came to light at 8 o’clock last night, it is 7 o’clock this morning. I think we need to allow today to play out. ”

Asked again if the whip should be withdrawn, Mr Hart hinted he believes it should be. He said: “I hesitate to jump in because if I express a view, I have got my own private views, if I express a view… it is not my decision, I think and I know what I would like to see happen, you can probably tell what is just from the way I am sort of trying to avoid answering your question.

“But it is important, I know it is the most boring thing in the world when people like me come on and won’t give you a straight answer.

“Let’s play today, let the Chief Whip do his duty today and then I think we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on about this but it would be really counterproductive… for somebody to come on and start speculating about the process. ”

08:29 AM

‘I fear it possibly won’t be the last’

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, said the resignation of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip likely “won’t be the last” Westminster scandal.

He said the allegations against Mr Pincher must “absolutely not” be swept under the carpet.

Mr Hart told Sky News: “No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think you listed a few examples. This is not the first time, I fear it possibly won’t be the last.

“This happens in workplaces from time to time, whatever we may think, and I am not trying to say look, just look the other way… absolutely not.”

08:17 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.

Westminster was stunned last night by the dismissal of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.

The Conservative Party is now under pressure to withdraw the Tory whip from Mr Pincher, with opposition parties demanding action.

I will guide you through the key developments on what promises to be another busy day in Westminster.



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