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Fourth by-election looms for Sunak

Not another one. Less than a week after the resignations of Boris Johnson and Nigel Adams prompted by-elections in their respective constituencies of Uxbridge and Selby, another contest now looms in Somerton and Frome. David Warburton, suspended as a Tory MP since April 2022, has tonight said he will shortly stand down from parliament too. Nadine Dorries meanwhile is expected to (at some point) follow through on her promises to quit the Commons and her Mid Bedfordshire seat. It means that Rishi Sunak  now faces the nightmare scenario of losing four elections in North Yorkshire, North London, the East of England and the South West, all within the space of weeks or months.

Warburton lost the Conservative whip 14 months ago after allegations of drug use and sexual impropriety were published in the Sunday Times. Tonight he uses an interview with its rival the Mail on Sunday to announce his intention to resign. He says that he has been ‘prevented’ from ‘speaking out’ while under investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Warburton said: ‘My constituents who elected me have for a year been deprived of the voice they need. It is with sorrow that I have to provoke the upheaval of a by-election. I hope that, in so doing, I can freely illuminate the methods of an oversight system not fit for purpose.’ He also accused the parliamentary authorities of being ‘terrified’ of the MeToo movement, saying he ‘didn’t stand a chance’ from the outset. 

Doesn’t sound like the Commissioner’s report will make for happy reading for him…
But now that Warburton’s toast, will Rishi be too? To lose one seat might be regarded as misfortune: to lose four seems slightly more serious…

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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