(Photo: UK Parliament via PA Media)
Boris Johnson is under pressure from Tory MPs to withdraw the party whip from an MP who allegedly sexually assaulted two men.
Chris Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip on Thursday evening, saying he had “embarrassed myself and other people” after having had “far too much” to drink.
The Sun first reported he had groped two fellow guests at the Carlton Club – a Tory Party private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly – on Wednesday evening.
Despite the accusations, Pincher has so far been allowed to continue to sit as a Tory MP.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, Welsh secretary Simon Hart refused to defend the decision and suggested Pincher should have the whip withdrawn.
“I think I know what I’d like to see happen - I think you can tell from the way I’m trying to avoid answering your question,” he said.
“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.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the prime minister had “serious questions” to answer about why Pincher was given the job in the first place “and how he can remain a Conservative MP”.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme it was a “total disgrace” that Pincher retained the party whip.
In May, the Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, resigned his Commons seat altogether after he admitted watching pornography in the Commons chamber.
One former Conservative minister said: “They can’t see difference between this and Neil Parish situation in terms of consequences.”
Asked if Pincher should lose the whip, another Tory MP said: “Yes. He should never have been appointed to that role. A time bomb waiting to go off.”
According to Politico, the prime minister was made aware of allegations about Pincher’s behaviour before appointing him deputy chief whip at the last reshuffle in February.
A Downing Street source said the “civil service cleared the appointment” at the time.
It is the second time Pincher has quit the whips office. He resigned as a junior whip in November 2017 following a complaint that he made an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
Having referred himself to both the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure, he was brought back by Theresa May as deputy chief whip in January 2018.
In his resignation letter to the prime minister, Pincher apologised for his behaviour, saying it had been “the honour of my life” to have served in the Government.
“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,” he said.
“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. It has been the honour of my life to have served in Her Majesty’s Government.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.