In the last few minutes, Chris Pincher has had the Conservative whip suspended after he resigned this morning over allegations he groped two men earlier this week. The Tory chief whip has announced that the former deputy chief whip will now lose the whip while an investigation into his behaviour takes place. A spokesman said:
“Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS [the Independent Complaints and Grievence Scheme], the Prime Minister has agreed with the Chief Whip that the whip should be suspended from Chris Pincher while the investigation is ongoing. We will not prejudge that investigation.
There had been noticeable disquiet in the cabinet at Pincher’s retention of the whip today, with Welsh Secretary Simon Hart refusing to say he thought this should continue as a Tory MP, and instead saying he knew ‘what I would like to see happen’, and that ‘I think we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on’.
There had also been complaints from another name on the roll of shame. Neil Parish lost his party whip and then resigned as an MP in May after admitting that he watched pornography in the Commons chamber. He feels that there have been 'double standards' at play here, given he was unceremoniously ejected from his party while Pincher retains the whip. 'I just feel it is double standards. But I suspect by this evening or tomorrow the whip will be withdrawn. I can't believe they can treat us in such different ways.'
Parish had a point, but it shows what sort of a low the Tory party has sunk that it is now getting lectures on how to handle discipline from someone who was booted out for watching porn in parliament.
Pincher has already been replaced as the deputy chief whip by Kelly Tolhurst. The deputy tends to be the figure who deals with pastoral issues within the party, which was what made Pincher’s position particularly difficult for the Prime Minister who appointed them. With Tolhurst’s appointment should come a change in the way pastoral issues within the party are dealt with, rather than leaving them to the office that is also responsible for twisting the arms of MPs.