Skip to content

Minister Refuses To Say Whether Chris Pincher Will Lose Conservative Whip – UK Politics Live

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

The latest data from Office for National Statistic’s (ONS) Infection Survey shows Covid infection rates have continued to increase across all four UK countries, likely driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

In the week ending on 24 June one in 30 people in England and Wales are estimated to have had the virus, one in 25 in Northern Ireland and one in 18 in Scotland.

Covid hospital admission rates and infections in England increased across all age groups. Admissions increased in all regions except the South West, where the trend was uncertain.

A total of 2.3 million people in private UK households are estimated to have had the virus last week, up 32% from 1.7 million the previous week.

This is the highest estimate for total infections since late April, but is still below the record high of 4.9 million which was reached at the end of March.

Tory MPs Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley have written a letter to Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris on the Chris Pincher groping claims, bemoaning an “inconsistent and unclear approach by the Party to instances of sexual misconduct”:

Letter from Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley to chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris

They ask for a “a policy of zero tolerance” on sexual misconduct allegations, a “thorough investigation… in each and every case” and that Tories under investigation are suspended from the whip

— Eleni Courea (@elenicourea) July 1, 2022 Teachers’ leaders have said government plans to give most teachers a pay rise of 5% do not “come close” to what is needed.

On Friday, The Telegraph reported that education secretary Nadhim Zahawi is planning to give early career teachers a rise of 9% in the first five years’ of their career, as part of plans to raise starting salaries to 30,000.

Zahawi is also planning a pay rise of 5% for the remaining 380,000 teachers across the UK to avoid the risk of strike action, rather than 3% as originally planned.

He has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to propose the increase.

The Department for Education’s submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body had suggested that more experienced teachers receive pay rises of between 2 and 3%, which unions have said is too low given rising inflation rates.

Both the NASUWT and NEU teaching unions, which have threatened strikes in autumn over pay, have said that the proposed increase of 5% for more experienced staff is too low.

The NEU has previously written to Zahawi calling for “inflation-plus” pay rises.

NASUWT has said it will hold a national strike ballot if the government fails to “deliver pay restoration for teachers”, PA reports.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said that she would await the government’s formal response to the STRB at the end of the month but that 9% for starting teachers was “only 1% more than expected” while 5% for more experienced staff was “unacceptable”.

The Schools Week website has reported that there are not enough supply agency teachers to cover gaps if teachers go on strike.

And this from the BBC News’s Ione Wells:

Several ministers have told the BBC he should not keep the whip, some expecting more to emerge.

Other MPs feel what he did was “worse than Neil Parish” who resigned, and that he “abused his power” as deputy chief whip.

— Ione Wells (@ionewells) July 1, 2022 One Tory MP tells the BBC: “If he’s not ousted from the party, Boris condones it and that’s not on.”

Meanwhile a Tory source claims to me that Boris Johnson is personally pushing back at suggestions he should lose the whip.

— Ione Wells (@ionewells) July 1, 2022 This from the i-Paper’s Arj Singh on Chris Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief whip:

A veteran Tory added: “He must lose the whip, otherwise the only conclusion is he is being protected because he’s one of Johnson’s supporters. There is so much more to come out about him. He should be banned from Parliament.”

— Arj Singh (@singharj) July 1, 2022 Another said: “His nickname is ‘arse’ for a reason. He’s known as ‘arse Pincher’ because he has form on this.”

— Arj Singh (@singharj) July 1, 2022 Keir Starmer will vow Labour will never deal with the Scottish National party while he is leader and make it explicit his party would go into minority government rather than enter talks with nationalists.

In a new effort to spike Tory attacks on a “coalition of chaos”, the Labour leader is expected to ramp up his pledge that the party would give no quarter to the SNP and would not grant an independence referendum, which will form part of his summer campaign.

That position would effectively dare the SNP to vote down a Labour Queen’s speech and bear responsibility for bringing down a Labour prime minister and enabling another Tory administration.

Here my colleague Jessica Elgot’s full story:

This from HuffPost UK’s Sophia Sleigh:

Boris Johnson shakes the hand of Jacinda Ardern in front of No.10 as reporter shouts at him: “Are you drowning in sleaze?!”

— Sophia Sleigh (@SophiaSleigh) July 1, 2022 British prime minister Boris Johnson welcomes New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern at Downing Street, in London, Britain, on 1 July, 2022. Photograph: John Sibley/ReutersAnother interesting nugget of polling from Ipsos UK’s Gideon Skinner:

Perceptions of the Conservatives as out of date are also growing, up from 39% in Sept to 49% now (Labour on 39%). Though the Conservatives are slightly more likely to be seen as different to the other parties. (8/10)

— Gideon Skinner (@GideonSkinner) July 1, 2022 Allowing Chris Pincher to keep the Tory whip shows Boris Johnson “doesn’t take allegations of sexual assault as seriously as the leader of a government should”, a Conservative MP has said.

The MP, who declined to be named, told PA:

Let’s not forget that Mr Pincher is the man who helped keep Boris Johnson in Downing Street earlier this year and was rewarded with one of the most sensitive jobs in government.

Number 10’s initial response – suggesting he’s done ‘the decent thing’ and allowing him to retain the whip – tells us that Boris Johnson doesn’t take allegations of sexual assault as seriously as the leader of a government should and is the latest demonstration of why he is unfit to be prime minister.

The standards of behaviour expected in an organisation are set by the person who leads it.

This is an interesting thread from Keiran Pedley, pollster for Ipsos UK, on the Conservatives’ and Labour’s party image:

NEW from @IpsosUK: Labour lead at 11.

Lab 41% (+2 from May)

Con 30% (-3)

Lib Dems 15% (+3)

Green 6% (+1)

Other 8% (-3)

But the real story is on party image. THREAD

1/ Cons at all time low on being seen as ‘fit to govern’. Labour lead by default. UK politics in a nutshell?

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) July 1, 2022 2/ Meanwhile, more from @IpsosUK. They say divided parties lose elections…well, right now 2/3rds consider Cons divided.

Labour at 47%. Lowest level since 2015.

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) July 1, 2022 3/ More on party image from @IpsosUK – here you can see the head to head.

Note that sometimes Con leads coloured red to reflect that a ‘lead’ on a negative statement is obviously bad. Thus Labour ‘leads’ on 10/11 image statements.

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) July 1, 2022 4/ And yet, let’s look at the Labour trend going back to 2015. Not much evidence of upward momentum.

Does add weight to the argument that Starmer / Labour’s current leads are more Tory woes than Labour improvement. Begs the question what happens if Cons change leader….

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) July 1, 2022 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 behaviour 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:

Featured News