A Cabinet minister has hinted that they believe Chris Pincher should lose the Tory whip after he resigned as deputy chief whip following claims that he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club in London.
Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, would not be drawn directly on whether Mr Pincher should have the whip taken away and said ultimately it is a matter for Chris Heaton-Harris, the Chief Whip.
But he said he does have his own view and “you can probably tell what that is just from the way I am sort of trying to avoiding your question.”
In a hint that action could be taken later today, Mr Hart told Sky News: “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 .”
Mr Pincher said in a resignation letter sent to Boris Johnson last night that he “drank far too much” at an event on Wednesday evening and had “embarrassed myself and other people”.
Labor has called for Mr Pincher to be stripped of the Tory whip. If a by-election was triggered in his Tamworth seat, it would heap fresh political pressure on Mr Johnson, who has faced renewed calls to stand down after losing two Tory seats last month.
Follow the latest updates below.
Boris Johnson pours cold water on idea of early election
Boris Johnson has previously refused to rule out calling an early general election.
But he has now appeared to pour cold water on the idea.
Told during an interview with LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari that it would be “ridiculous” to hold an early election, Mr Johnson said: “Totally, totally.”
Mr Johnson then said he would not comment on the issue any further as he said it is his job to “talk about the government’s agenda”.
‘No reason’ to bring back Covid restrictions
Covid case numbers are on the rise across the UK and Boris Johnson was asked if there are any circumstances in which the Government would reimpose restrictions.
He told LBC Radio: “I think that we see no reason for that. At the moment, the most important thing is vaccination.”
Asked how high case numbers would need to go to force the Government to change tack, the PM said: “We’re not seeing the types of pressures on the medical services that would lead us to anything like that, but my message to people is what I’ve said before: get vaccinated.”
PM refuses to comment on tree house claims
Boris Johnson faced allegations in June that he had planned to build a £150,000 tree house in the grounds of his Checkers country residence for his son Wilf. Mr Johnson declined to deny the report at the time.
He was asked about the claims during an interview with LBC Radio, conducted yesterday and broadcast this morning, and he refused to be drawn on the issue.
Mr Johnson said he was “not going to comment on things in my family life”.
Further fuel duty cut is a ‘possibility’`
Rishi Sunak unveiled a temporary 5p cut to fuel duty back in March this year but he has faced growing calls to go further as prices at the pump continue to soar.
Boris Johnson has now said he is not ruling out a further cut and suggested it is a “possibility”. However, the way in which the PM made the comments would suggest it is not likely.
He told LBC Radio he is “not going to comment on further fiscal measures” that Mr Sunak could announced.
Asked if it is a possibility, the PM said: “You know, logically speaking, everything that I don’t rule out, such as the moon is made of green cheese is a… you know, there are all sorts of things that I ‘m not going to rule out.”
He added: “Yeah, it’s a possibility, that Elvis will be reincarnated as, you know, Nick Ferrari or whatever.”
Putin has ‘considerable margin of manoeuvre’
Vladimir Putin has “considerable margin of manoeuvre” to back down over the Ukraine war, Boris Johnson has said.
The Prime Minister said Mr Putin “enjoys very considerable levels of public support at the moment in Russia” and that would give him space to bring the invasion to an end.
He told LBC Radio: “He has, I think, considerable margin of manoeuvre, political margin of manoeuvre, to say, look, you know, I went in, I had to achieve certain things, and it will be up to him to specify what he thought those were, but in the interests of peace, in the interest of the world, I think the time has come now to bring the technical military operation to an end, and to withdraw and to seek a new arrangement. That I think is what he should do.”
PM: Ukraine war can end with Putin still in Kremlin
Boris Johnson said he believes the Ukraine war can end with Vladimir Putin still in the Kremlin.
The UK Government has long-stressed it is not seeking regime change in Russia.
Mr Johnson was asked if the Ukraine conflict has to end with the Russian President out of power.
He said “no, of course not” and suggested it could still be possible to negotiate a peace with Mr Putin.
PM: West must ignore Putin’s ‘sabre-rattling’
Boris Johnson gave an interview to LBC Radio at the end of the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday and it has just been broadcast.
He was asked if he had any estimates for how many threats there have been from Vladimir Putin to deploy some form of nuclear weapon during the Ukraine war.
Mr Johnson said: “Well, there’s an analysis that I think has been done by somebody recently, a think tank, that they’re looking at about 35 mentions or perhaps it’s a little bit more now, of that issue.
“But I think it’s very, very important that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be side-tracked by this kind of sabre-rattling, because fundamentally, what Putin is trying to do is to reframe this. It’s about Russia versus NATO. It’s about, you know, a stand-off of that kind. It’s not.”
Cabinet minister hints Chris Pincher should lose Tory whip
Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, was asked a number of times if Chris Pincher should lose the Tory whip.
He would not be drawn directly, telling Sky News: “That is a matter for Chris Heaton-Harris, his boss. This only really came to light at 8 o’clock last night, it is 7 o’clock this morning. I think we need to allow today to play out.”
Asked again if the whip should be withdrawn, Mr Hart hinted he believes it should be. He said: “I hesitate to jump in because if I express a view, I have got my own private views, if I express a view… it is not my decision, I think and I know what I would like to see happen, you can probably tell what that is just from the way I am sort of trying to avoid answering your question.
“But it is important, I know it is the most boring thing in the world when people like me come on and won’t give you a straight answer.
“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 about this but it would be really counterproductive…for somebody to come on and start speculating about the process.”
‘I fear it may not be the last’
Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, said the resignation of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip likely “won’t be the last” Westminster scandal.
He said the claims against Mr Pincher must “absolutely not” be swept under the carpet.
Mr Hart told Sky News: “No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think you listed a few examples. This is not the first time, I fear it may not be the last.
“This happens in workplaces from time to time, whatever we may think, and I am not trying to say look, just look the other way… absolutely not.”
Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.
Westminster was stunned last night by the resignation of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.
The Conservative Party is now under pressure to withdraw the Tory whip from Mr Pincher, with opposition parties demanding action.
I will guide you through the key developments on what promises to be another busy day in Westminster.