Former Tory whip Chris Pincher resigns as an MP

Former Tory whip Chris Pincher has said he is resigning as an MP after losing his appeal against a suspension for drunkenly groping two men.

His announcement paves the way for another by-election for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives.

Mr Pincher, who has repeatedly denied the accusations made against him, said he did not want to put any “further uncertainty” on his constituents in Tamworth, West Mids, and has “made arrangements to resign and leave the Commons”.

He said in a statement on Thursday (September 7): “I have said already that I will not stand at the next general election. However, following the Independent Expert Panel’s decision I wanted to talk to my office team and family.

“I do not want my constituents to be put to further uncertainty, and so in consequence I have made arrangements to resign and leave the Commons.

“Tamworth is a wonderful place and it has been an honour to represent its people. I shall make no further comment at this time.”

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Mr Pincher lost his appeal against an eight-week suspension from the House of Commons after allegations he drunkenly groped two men at London’s exclusive Carlton Club last year.

The suspension exceeds the 10-day threshold which would trigger a recall petition in his Tamworth seat if MPs were to have approved it.

The Commons Standards Committee in July recommended a lengthy suspension for Mr Pincher after it found the MP’s conduct last summer was “profoundly damaging” and amounted to an abuse of power.

His actions were described as “unwanted, inappropriate and upsetting”, in what amounted to an “egregious case of sexual misconduct”.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the row over his ex-chief whip was the final nail in the coffin of his premiership, triggering his resignation after an exodus of ministers from his administration.

Mr Pincher had appealed against the committee’s findings, arguing they were disproportionate, but Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) dismissed his appeal on Monday (September 4).

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Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ exit from the Commons last week has already lined up a by-election in Mid Bedfordshire on October 19.

The Tories have held the seat since 1931 and Ms Dorries retained it in 2019 by 24,664 votes over second-placed Labour.

But the Conservatives are wary of any electoral test after a sustained period in which national polling has shown the party lagging behind Labour.

Mr Pincher has been comfortably voted for by Tamworth residents since 2010 and won a 19,634 vote majority at the last General Election.

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Downing Street said on Monday it was a matter for Mr Pincher as to whether he chose to resign.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think that’s a matter for him in the first instance. Sanctions are a matter for the House following recommendations of the committee.”

He added: “The Prime Minister is clear about the importance of integrity, professionalism and accountability.

“Those are the core values of the Government and supports the work of the committee in ensuring that those standards are met.”

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