Boris Johnson faces calls to suspend lawmaker over sexual misconduct allegations

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (not pictured) at Downing Street, in London, Britain, July 1, 2022. Reuters/John Sibley/Pool

By Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced covralls on Friday to suspend one of his lawmakers who has become the latest Conservative Party politician to become embroiled in accusations of sexual misconduct.

Christopher Pincher, whose role as Deputy Chief Whip involved enforcing party discipline, resigned from the government saying he had drunk too much, embarrassed himself and “caused upset” to people.

Local media reported he had sexually assaulted two male guests at a London club. Pincher did not respond to requests for comment.

“The prime minister has accepted his resignation and thinks it was the right thing to do,” Johnson’s spokesman said, declining to confirm details of the accusations. “He wants to make sure that parliamentary standards and the culture in parliament is improved.”

In 2017, Pincher was cleared by an internal party complaints procedure following reports he had made an unwanted pass at a former rower. The spokesman said Johnson was not aware of any specific allegations against Pincher at the point he appointed him to his government role.

“He always encourages people to come forward where they believe there is a complaint that needs to be raised,” the spokesman said.

Last week Johnson’s Conservatives lost two parliamentary seats in votes triggered by the resignations of two of his lawmakers in separate scandals related to sexual misconduct.

Another Conservative lawmaker has been arrested on suspicion of rape and other sexual offences and told to stay away from parliament while police investigate.

Johnson is under pressure from both some of his own lawmakers and opponents to suspend Pincher.

Two senior Conservative lawmakers, Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, said the party had an inconsistent and unclear approach to instances of sexual misconduct.

“The party and, by extension, the government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach,” they wrote in a letter to Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris, calling for a zero tolerance policy and for every case to be investigated.

“Anyone subject to such an investigation should not be allowed to sit as a Conservative MP.”

Opposition Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said the Conservatives were “sweeping a potential sexual assault under the carpet”.