Cabinet minister hints Chris Pincher who resigned over ‘groping’ claims could lose Tory whip today

·3 min read

A cabinet minister has suggested the Conservative Party deputy chief whip who resigned after he was said to have groped two men while drunk will lose the party whip later today.

Chris Pincher dramatically quit his government job late last night following the alleged assault at a Conservative Party private members’ club, but remains a Tory MP .

Labour, as well as other Conservative MPs, have demanded that he lose his party’s whip.

Welsh secretary Simon Hart hinted that he agreed and suggested such a move could happen later today.

“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,” he told Sky News.

He said the sexual misconduct allegations made him “very sad” but it was important that due process was followed.

But he also warned the resignation likely "won’t be the last" Westminster scandal, as he said the allegations against Mr Pincher must "absolutely not" be swept under the carpet.

It is not the first time Mr Pincher has resigned as a whip.

In 2017, he stood down after he was accused of making unwanted advances toward former Olympic rower and Tory activist Alex Story, nine years before becoming an MP.

Mr Pincher said at the time: “I do not recognise either the events or the interpretation placed on them... if Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him.”

He was later cleared of breaching his party’s code of conduct over the allegations.

Politico today reported that allegations about Mr Pincher were raised with Downing Street before Mr Pincher was appointed in the February reshuffle and that he had a “minder” to ensure he left events without becoming too drunk and getting into trouble.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about why Chris Pincher was given this role in the first place and how he can remain a Conservative MP.”

One Tory MP told the Telegraph: “Pincher must lose the whip.”

In his resignation letter to Boris Johnson, Mr Pincher said he had “embarrassed himself and other people” by drinking too much at the club, understood to be the Carlton Club, in London’s Piccadilly.

The Tamworth MP wrote: “Last night I drank far too much.

“I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and to those concerned.

“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as Deputy Chief Whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.

“I want to assure you that you will continue to have my full support from the back benches, and I wish you all the best as you deal with aftershocks of Covid and the challenges of international inflation.

“It has been the honour of my life to have served in Her Majesty’s Government.”

A number of MPs, from various parties, have been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years, leading Westminster to become nicknamed ‘Pestminster’.