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Former Tory MP who had whip withdrawn over watching porn in Commons warns of ‘double standards’ for Chris Pincher – UK politics live


Former MP who was stripped off whip for watching porn in Commons warms of ‘double standards’

Neil Parish, the former Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton,has said the Conservatives cannot show “double standards” and must remove the whip from former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.

Parish, who formally resigned in May after admitting he had watched pornography twice on his phone in parliament, suggested that he believes the party whip could be withdrawn from Pincher before the end of Saturday.

Parish was adamant the whip should be withdrawn from his former parliamentary colleague, saying:

The first thing they did to me, and I made a huge mistake, is that they withdrew the whip. There cannot be double standards.

My belief is that Christopher Pincher has things to be answered for, the whip must be withdrawn and he has the opportunity then to go before the parliamentary standards board to see what his conduct actually was – those that were affected can also give evidence.

The former MP expressed disbelief that the party whip had not already been withdrawn.

I can’t believe why they haven’t done it, because that was the first thing they did to me, even though I asked for it to be sorted out privately.

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 But I suspect by this evening or tomorrow the whip will be withdrawn.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.

Asked by LBC if he saw himself as badly treated by the Conservatives, he said:

I have accepted what happened and I made a big mistake and so up until now, yes I have.

But I have to say to you on this occasion, then I am very upset.

He suggested that he cut an independent path in parliament, meaning that he had little protection from the party when the scandal broke.

The resulting by-election Tiverton and Honiton saw the Liberal Democrats take the seat, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 24,000.

Parish said:

I got myself elected to the [Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] Select Committee chair.

I never had preferment. I was always keen to hold ministers to account, which is what you do as a select committee chair.

And so you weren’t part of the establishment. So when you come to blot your copy book, which I did, I accept that, there was no protection for me and straight over the side of the boat.

You just think, come on, he may be deputy chief whip, in fact he may have been the man who actually removed the whip from me, so come on, let’s be fair.

Former MP Neil Parish visits Devon County Show at the Westpoint Arena and Show ground in Clyst St Mary near Exeter on 1 July, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom.
Former MP Neil Parish visits Devon County Show at the Westpoint Arena and Show ground in Clyst St Mary near Exeter on 1 July, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Here a clip from ITV news featuring an interview with Neil Parish, who is calling for “equal treatment” for himself and former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher:

Neil Parish, who had the Tory whip removed for watching porn in Parliament, tells us he’s angry Chris Pincher hasn’t had the whip removed over sexual assault allegations.

“I was doing myself damage, I was not trying to damage others – you can’t say the same for dear Christopher” pic.twitter.com/oK7cT4jhgy

— Daniel Hewitt (@DanielHewittITV) July 1, 2022

Former MP who was stripped off whip for watching porn in Commons warms of ‘double standards’

Neil Parish, the former Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton,has said the Conservatives cannot show “double standards” and must remove the whip from former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.

Parish, who formally resigned in May after admitting he had watched pornography twice on his phone in parliament, suggested that he believes the party whip could be withdrawn from Pincher before the end of Saturday.

Parish was adamant the whip should be withdrawn from his former parliamentary colleague, saying:

The first thing they did to me, and I made a huge mistake, is that they withdrew the whip. There cannot be double standards.

My belief is that Christopher Pincher has things to be answered for, the whip must be withdrawn and he has the opportunity then to go before the parliamentary standards board to see what his conduct actually was – those that were affected can also give evidence.

The former MP expressed disbelief that the party whip had not already been withdrawn.

I can’t believe why they haven’t done it, because that was the first thing they did to me, even though I asked for it to be sorted out privately.

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.

Asked by LBC if he saw himself as badly treated by the Conservatives, he said:

I have accepted what happened and I made a big mistake and so up until now, yes I have.

But I have to say to you on this occasion, then I am very upset.

He suggested that he cut an independent path in parliament, meaning that he had little protection from the party when the scandal broke.

The resulting by-election Tiverton and Honiton saw the Liberal Democrats take the seat, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 24,000.

Parish said:

I got myself elected to the [Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] Select Committee chair.

I never had preferment. I was always keen to hold ministers to account, which is what you do as a select committee chair.

And so you weren’t part of the establishment. So when you come to blot your copy book, which I did, I accept that, there was no protection for me and straight over the side of the boat.

You just think, come on, he may be deputy chief whip, in fact he may have been the man who actually removed the whip from me, so come on, let’s be fair.

Former MP Neil Parish visits Devon County Show at the Westpoint Arena and Show ground in Clyst St Mary near Exeter on 1 July, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom.
Former MP Neil Parish visits Devon County Show at the Westpoint Arena and Show ground in Clyst St Mary near Exeter on 1 July, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Post Office collection and cash delivery workers are to stage a one-day strike later this month in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) employed in supply chain and admin jobs will walk out on 14 July, PA reports.

The workers deliver cash, valuables and essential supplies to thousands of sub-post offices, process finances and work in administration.

The dispute is in opposition to a pay offer from the Post Office which the union said was worth 3% for 2022-23, alongside a one-off lump sum payment of 500, and no pay increase for the 2021-22 financial year.

The union said the proposals are far beneath the RPI inflation rate of 11.7%.

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said:

The blame for this disruption lies entirely with the senior Post Office leadership, who have repeatedly failed – and wilfully refused – to set out a sensible and fair pay agreement.

Everyone knows that the only solution is a fair pay rise that properly rewards members for their extraordinary efforts in serving the public and delivering a profitable Post Office, while also taking account of the extreme cost of living.

There most certainly is money available, but management do not want to give workers their fair share.

Our message to the employer today is: don’t waste our members’ time by misleading statements.

Stop the spin and get serious about pay. Until you do this, the strikes will continue.

A Post Office spokesperson said:

We have received notice that the CWU has called a strike involving supply chain colleagues.

We will have a range of contingency measures in place to minimise any possible disruption to the Post Office network on that day.

More than 3,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Channel to the UK in June – the highest monthly total this year.

Last month 3,136 people made the crossing on 76 boats, with journeys taking place on 19 days, according to PA news agency analysis of government figures.

Of the 12,690 people who made the journey in the first half of this year, the second highest month for crossings was 3,074 in March.

The highest monthly record since 2018 was 6,971 crossings in November 2021.

The total for 2022 so far is more than five times the amount recorded between January and June 2020 (2,493) and more than double the six-month tally for the first half of last year (5,917).

Crossings continued on Thursday with 94 people arriving in Dover, Kent, in two boats.
The figures indicate 51,824 people have made the crossing since 2018.

Home Office figures show 28,526 crossed in 2021, compared with 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019 and 299 in 2018.

The number of Channel crossings may be increasing, but represent a fraction of the number of people migrating to Europe.

Data from the UN Refugee Agency shows at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2021.

Earlier this week, the home secretary, Priti Patel, struck a fresh deal with Nigeria, which her department said would do more to tackle “illegal migration” and speed up the “removal of foreign criminals”.

At the same time, the Home Office said 13 people who had “no right to be in the UK” were deported to Nigeria, with a further eight flown to Ghana.

Shadow leader of the House of Commons Thangam Debbonaire said the allegations of sexual misconduct against former Tory deputy chief whip Chris Pincher must be investigated.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme:

He hasn’t had the whip removed and there’s no sign at the moment of these allegations being investigated by the Tory party.

So yes, he’s resigned as deputy chief whip and what next? What does that say to victims if there’s no further action?

That Pincher has not had the whip removed, she added, “is part of a wider culture, which comes from the top I’m afraid, of tolerance of poor behaviour”.

The responsibility is now on the prime minister, the Tory prime minister and those propping him up to demand, expect and enforce the highest standards of behaviour.

This from Politico’s Eleni Courea:

Besides everything else, it’s entirely implausible that Steve Barclay would hold up the cabinet reshuffle for hours to allow PET to look into allegations against Chris Pincher (as No10 source claimed to me) without Boris Johnson ever being told about those allegations…

— Eleni Courea (@elenicourea) July 1, 2022

No 10 has denied that Boris Johnson knew about any specific sexual misconduct claims against Chris Pincher before making him deputy chief whip, as the prime minister faces growing pressure to withdraw the whip from his ally for allegedly drunkenly groping two men.

Johnson’s deputy official spokesperson said the prime minister was not aware of any allegations against Pincher prior to promoting him in February, despite multiple sources saying No 10 was told of allegations of sexual misconduct before this point.

No 10 admitted that the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team examined Pincher’s suitability but said it could not block any appointment based on “unsubstantiated rumour”.

Here is our full report, by Jane Clinton and Rowena Mason:

Boris Johnson’s premiership has been characterised by a string of scandals since he entered No 10 in December 2019.

From “Pestminster” to “Wallpapergate”, the prime minister has sought to ride out every storm during his two and a half years in charge.

My colleague Josh Halliday has a timeline of the sleaze so far:

This from insider’s Cat Neilan:

Cabinet Office is refusing to say whether Chris Pincher’s appointment as deputy chief whip was referred to the Propriety and Ethics Team.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:
“All appointments follow established processes.”

— Cat Neilan (@CatNeilan) July 1, 2022

This from Mail on Sunday commentator Dan Hodges:

Speaking to Tory MPs, I think the handling of the Chris Pincher case is worse for Boris than Partygate. Much worse.

— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) July 1, 2022

Commenting on new data showing rising Covid infections and hospital admissions across the UK, Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of clinical programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said:

We continue to see an increase in Covid-19 data, with a rise in case rates and hospitalisations in those aged 65 years and over, and outbreaks in care homes.

We can also now see a rise in ICU admissions in older age groups.

Vaccination remains the best defence against severe disease and hospitalisation. Covid-19 has not gone away and we should all remember to keep up good hand and respiratory hygiene. It is also sensible to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces.

Around one in six people aged 75 and over had not received a vaccine dose within the past six months, putting them more at risk of severe disease, the UKHSA added.

All over-75s in the UK have been offered a “spring booster”, available at least three months after their most recent jab, to ensure they continue to receive the maximum possible protection from the virus.

Figures show that 8,928 patients in England had Covid-19 on 30 June, up 39% on the previous week, and just over half the level of patients recorded at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave, PA reports.

In Wales, 548 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital on 29 June, up 52% from the previous week, while Scotland has seen patient numbers jump 34% week-on-week, reaching 1,298 on 26 June.

The trend in Northern Ireland is uncertain, with numbers rising in early June before levelling off in recent days between 320 and 340.

Around six in 10 hospital patients who test positive for Covid-19 are being treated primarily for something else, rather than the virus.

The Northern Ireland Office minister Conor Burns declined to be drawn on whether it was sustainable for Chris Pincher, who reportedly groped two male guests at the Conservative party’s private members’ Carlton Club in London, to retain the Tory whip.

Burns, who was in Belfast on Friday to mark the Battle of the Somme anniversary, said:

With respect to that, I’m here today to mark a remarkable chapter in the history of these islands, to remember those who gave their lives fighting for freedom and for democratic values, and that’s really not something I want to contaminate by talking about those matters.

When pressed, he said:

All of those matters are matters for the prime minister and the government whips’ office, they’re not matters for me.

Asked whether Boris Johnson operates a zero-tolerance approach to allegations of sexual misconduct among members of the team, a No 10 spokesperson said:

Of course, the prime minister thinks that that sort of behaviour is unacceptable and he would encourage those who wish to make a complaint to do so.

The official said he “wouldn’t agree with” the characterisation that Johnson does not take sexual assault claims seriously, adding:

The prime minister does think he’s [Pincher] done the right thing in resigning and has accepted that resignation.

The spokesperson said Johnson and Pincher “exchanged messages”, though he refused to give details of the “private” exchange and said he was not expecting the PM to write a letter.

Boris Johnson considers Chris Pincher matter closed after resignation, Downing Street suggests

Downing Street has suggested that Boris Johnson considers the matter of the former deputy chief whip closed following his resignation over a drunken incident.

Asked whether the PM believes the issue is done and dusted, a No 10 spokesperson said:

He’s [Chris Pincher] resigned that position so I’m not aware of any sort of government investigation.

The official repeatedly stressed that Pincher is “no longer a minister”.

He added:

[The prime minister] has accepted his resignation, but again I think I’ve been clear that he would encourage anybody who feels as though they need to make a complaint to do so.

I’ve said that he believes that the behaviour was unacceptable, which is why he’s accepted the resignation.

Pressed on whether Pincher is under any form of probe, the official said:

He’s withdrawn his position as a minister, so I would have to point you to my political colleagues in terms of any sort of party investigations.

Boris Johnson has said he is not opposed to grammar schools “in principle” following reports that the government could relax a ban on the creation of new selective schools.

In an interview with LBC, Johnson was asked about the support for setting up new grammar schools among MPs in the “Red Wall”.

He said:

Look, I’ve always been in favour of academic competition and many schools now have policies of selective admission in sixth forms… I’m not against that in principle. All I would say is that what I want is good schools everywhere.

I think that competition is a damn fine thing and very important and leads to excellence, and provided… you encourage competition in a way that doesn’t make everybody who fails feel totally miserable, you’ll get some pretty good results.

Johnson said he had “never been against academic selection”, adding, “you need to look at how you do it”.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has also said he wants to “spread the DNA” of grammar schools through the system with grammar schools joining a “family of multi-academy trusts” while retaining their selective status.

PA reports:

The Labour Party introduced a ban on the creation of new grammar schools more than 20 years ago.

The idea of opening new grammar schools enjoys support within the Conservative party, with former teacher and Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, who sits on the Commons education select committee, running a campaign to scrap the ban.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, also wants to see the rule overturned, and is set to table an amendment to the Schools Bill in a move to bring about the change.

In England, there are 163 grammar schools, most of which are academies although 20 are maintained schools.
Pupils typically sit the 11-Plus exam to be selected for a place on the basis of academic ability.

This from Sky News’s Tamara Cohen:

PM spokesman says Boris Johnson not aware of “any specific allegations” against Chris Pincher when he was appointed deputy chief whip in Feb.

“In the absence of any formal complaint, it was not appropriate to stop an appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations”

— Tamara Cohen (@tamcohen) July 1, 2022





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