Boris Johnson’s handling of groping allegations against Tory MP Chris Pincher could help Conservative Party rebels finally “get rid of him”.
Pincher, MP for Tamworth, resigned as deputy chief whip on Thursday (30 June), following allegations that he groped two men at the Carlton Club in London. In a statement he said that he had drunk “far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people” on a night out.
But last month’s resignation marked the second time Pincher had quit the whips’ office, having already resigned in 2017 and referred himself to police over allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances towards former Olympic rower Alex Story.
On Monday (4 July), Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds sent a letter to Johnson, demanding to know if he was aware of the allegations against Pinscher before appointing him, writing: “The British people deserve to know why Mr Pincher was appointed as deputy chief whip when he has a history of alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour.”
Dodds also hit out at Johnson’s comments that there was no need for an investigation, and that Pincher had done the “decent thing” by resigning. The MP finally had the whip removed by the party on Friday (1 July) after an investigation was launched into his conduct.
She included a quote from a Tory backbencher, which read: “No 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.”
I’ve written to the Prime Minister to ask what he knew about the allegations concerning his former Deputy Chief Whip.
I would write to the Tory Party Chair if there was one, but Boris Johnson can’t seem to find anyone willing to defend his scandal and sleaze-ridden government. pic.twitter.com/bf2wTEfrkm
— Anneliese Dodds (@AnnelieseDodds) July 4, 2022
On Monday, junior minister Will Quince said he had been “given categorical assurance that the prime minister was not aware of any serious specific allegation” against Chris Pincher, and while speaking to LBC, denied claims made by Dominic Cummings that Boris Johnson had referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”.
Last month, Johnson won a confidence vote despite 148 of his own MPs voting against him. Current 1922 Committee rules mean that another vote cannot be held for a year.
But some Tory rebels think that Johnson’s handling of the groping allegations against Pincher could be the final straw that pushes a vote sooner rather than later.
This month, the 1922 Committee election will see some candidates standing on a platform of changing the rules to allow a second confidence vote if it is backed by 25 per cent of Conservative MPs.
One Tory backbencher told the Independent: “We’ve got the votes now to get rid of him.”