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Minister refuses to say whether Chris Pincher will lose Conservative whip – UK politics live | Politics


Cabinet minister refuses to say whether Chris Pincher could lose Tory whip by end of day

The big story this morning is about Conservative MP Chris Pincher, who resigned from his role as deputy chief whip last night after admitting he had “embarrassed myself and other people” following reports that he drunkenly groped two men at the Carlton Club in Piccadilly, London, on Wednesday.

Interviewed on Sky News this morning, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart was unable to confirm whether the alleged assault was being formally investigated, as Labour demanded Pincher have the whip suspended.

Hart said it was “early days yet” and that from the perspective of the alleged victims, it could be “counter-productive” to rush any probe.

He said Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris would be having “conversations” throughout the day and that “we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on”.

The Cabinet minister told Sky News:

This makes me very sad, it makes me sad for everybody who’s been involved in these things. It’s clearly something which has gone terribly wrong. There is a process, I think it’s important that the process is followed.

I think it is entirely right that the chief whip and others take a view today about what is the appropriate course of action. Of course, if there are those who are victims of this or who wish to raise complaint, they can do so.

Asked whether he believed Pincher should lose the whip, Hart said he knew “what he would like to see happen” but that the decision was not down to him.

Let’s let today play out, 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.

This is not the first time, I fear it possibly won’t be the last. This happens in workplaces from time to time.

Labour said the incident showed the Tory Party was “mired in sleaze and scandal” and questioned how Pincher could still be allowed to take the Conservative whip given what had happened.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper said that removing the whip from the former Conservative deputy whip needed to be the “first step that takes place” but did not call for his resignation as an MP.

Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We need to know the full truth about what has happened and what the allegations are.

But I think that’s [removing the whip] 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.

Guardian reporter Jane Clinton has the full story here:

This from Insider’s Cat Neilan on one Tory MP’s hot take on the Pincher story:

One Tory MP blames…. Keir Starmer

“If there was a strong opposition, Pincher wouldn’t have ever been deputy chief whip,” he says.

— Cat Neilan (@CatNeilan) July 1, 2022

This from ITV News’s Anushka Asthana:

A lot of pressure to remove whip from Chris Pincher from Tory MPs- who’ve contacted the chief whip Chris Heaton Harris. One comparing to decision yo remove whip from Neil Parish over watching porn in House of Commons.

— Anushka Asthana (@AnushkaAsthana) July 1, 2022

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain has said it is “difficult to see” how Chris Pincher can remain as an MP for Tamworth.

Chamberlain told PA:

Given the seriousness of these allegations, it’s difficult to see how Chris Pincher can continue as an MP.

This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable in parliament or anywhere else.

There now needs to be a full investigation and in the meantime Chris Pincher should have the Conservative whip withdrawn.

She also said that Boris Johnson has “serious questions to answer” over his appointment.

There are a lot of questions about why Boris Johnson appointed Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip, despite No 10 having been aware of concerns about his behavior since the beginning of the year.

Politico reports that a group of Conservative MPs intervened in February in order to block Pincher getting appointed as chief whip, according to two MPs and one government official.

“He [Pincher] was absolutely livid when he didn’t get made chief,” said one aide. “As soon as his name was in the running, people went into No 10, including MPs, with new allegations about what he’d done.”

A No 10 official said Pincher got the job of deputy chief whip after concerns about him had been raised with Steve Barclay, the PM’s chief of staff.

The Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team concluded the allegations should not bar Pincher from getting the role.

And this from the Sunday Times’s Hannah Al-Othman:

Tory MP says lots of internal lobbying been going on since last night to suspend the whip from Pincher.

Wouldn’t be surprised if we see a U-turn on that before the day is out.

— Hannah Al-Othman (@HannahAlOthman) July 1, 2022

This from the Scotsman’s Alexander Brown on remarks reportedly made by Guto Harri, director of communications at 10 Downing Street:

I’m told at this morning’s Downing Street meeting Guto Harri told staff Chris Pincher was vulnerable and had lost his career, so they should all “think about how he feels” today

— Alexander Brown (@AlexofBrown) July 1, 2022

This from Adam Payne, the political editor of PoliticsHome, on Conservative MP Chris Pincher’s resignation over groping allegations:

A furious Conservative party source points out that the deputy chief whip usually handles MP welfare

“It’s particularly grim…

“Why on earth Boris gave him [Pincher] that role, which in turn gave him access to potentially vulnerable MPs, beggars belief. It’s neglect.”

— Adam Payne (@adampayne26) July 1, 2022

I’m Jedidajah Otte and I’ll be taking over for the next few hours. As ever, feel free to get in touch with tips, pointers and comments, I’m on Twitter @JedySays or you can email me.

Cabinet minister refuses to say whether Chris Pincher could lose Tory whip by end of day

The big story this morning is about Conservative MP Chris Pincher, who resigned from his role as deputy chief whip last night after admitting he had “embarrassed myself and other people” following reports that he drunkenly groped two men at the Carlton Club in Piccadilly, London, on Wednesday.

Interviewed on Sky News this morning, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart was unable to confirm whether the alleged assault was being formally investigated, as Labour demanded Pincher have the whip suspended.

Hart said it was “early days yet” and that from the perspective of the alleged victims, it could be “counter-productive” to rush any probe.

He said Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris would be having “conversations” throughout the day and that “we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on”.

The Cabinet minister told Sky News:

This makes me very sad, it makes me sad for everybody who’s been involved in these things. It’s clearly something which has gone terribly wrong. There is a process, I think it’s important that the process is followed.

I think it is entirely right that the chief whip and others take a view today about what is the appropriate course of action. Of course, if there are those who are victims of this or who wish to raise complaint, they can do so.

Asked whether he believed Pincher should lose the whip, Hart said he knew “what he would like to see happen” but that the decision was not down to him.

Let’s let today play out, 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.

This is not the first time, I fear it possibly won’t be the last. This happens in workplaces from time to time.

Labour said the incident showed the Tory Party was “mired in sleaze and scandal” and questioned how Pincher could still be allowed to take the Conservative whip given what had happened.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper said that removing the whip from the former Conservative deputy whip needed to be the “first step that takes place” but did not call for his resignation as an MP.

Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We need to know the full truth about what has happened and what the allegations are.

But I think that’s [removing the whip] 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.

Guardian reporter Jane Clinton has the full story here:

Boris Johnson rejects idea that Ukraine conflict is about ‘Russia versus Nato’

Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall

Good morning. The day kicked off with an appearance from prime minister Boris Johnson on LBC, in which he told host Nick Ferrari that despite some 35 recorded threats of nuclear war from Putin, it’s important not to “allow ourselves to be side-tracked by this kind of sabre-rattling”.

He said:

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. It’s about his attack on an entirely innocent country, with conventional weapons, with artillery, bombardments with planes, shells and so on.

He added that he thought the Ukrainians could “recapture ground”, as evidenced in the Snake Island win, but that “the time has come now to bring the technical military operation to an end, and to withdraw and to seek a new arrangement”. He said he didn’t think that the war would necessarily end with Putin out of the Kremlin, since he enjoys “very considerable levels of public support”.

Responding to questions on why the army is reducing troop levels, he said the priority is on improving equipment levels for the armed forces rather than increasing recruits.

Asked about Met police failings, he said that City Hall “has got to grip this thing”, and that it was the responsibility of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as he is commissioner of the police in London. With one in seven police forces in special measures, he said he would ensure they are “properly held to account through the Police and Crime Commissioners”.

On the question of whether Covid restrictions could return as the UK grapples with its fifth wave of the virus, Johnson said:

I think that we see no reason for that.

Johnson also shared his views on grammar schools:

I’ve always been in favour of academic competition… All I would say is that what I want is good schools everywhere.

Also coming up today: Boris Johnson hosts New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern in Downing Street at 11.15am

You can reach me at [email protected] if there are any political stories you think we’ve missed.





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