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Tory deputy chief whip quits after drunken incident

Government deputy chief whip Chris Pincher (UK Parliament/PA)
Government deputy chief whip Chris Pincher (UK Parliament/PA)

The Government deputy chief whip has resigned following a drunken incident in which he “embarrassed myself and other people”.

Chris Pincher, who was responsible for maintaining discipline among Tory MPs, apologised to Boris Johnson, saying it had been “the honour of my life” to have served in the Government.

The Sun reported that he stood down after assaulting two fellow guests at the Carlton Club – a Tory Party private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly – on Wednesday evening.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Pincher said: “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.

“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, and I wish you all the best as you deal with aftershocks of Covid and the challenges of international inflation.

“It has been the honour of my life to have served in Her Majesty’s Government.”

Pincher
Chris Pincher (right) leaves Downing Street with chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris following their appointment in February’s reshuffle (Aaron Chown/PA)

The resignation of Mr Pincher in such dramatic circumstances is a further blow for the Prime Minister who has been beset with allegations of misconduct over lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Labour it showed the Government was “mired in scandal” and questioned how he could stay on as a Tory MP after The Sun reported that he would not lose the Conservative whip because he had admitted wrongdoing and resigned.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “This latest episode shows how far standards in public life have been degraded on Boris Johnson’s watch.

“Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about why Chris Pincher was given this role in the first place and how he can remain a Conservative MP.

“The Conservative Party is so mired in sleaze and scandal that it is totally unable to tackle the challenges facing the British people.”

Mr Pincher was appointed alongside chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris last February to strengthen party discipline amid unrest among MPs over the way the Government was being run.

It is the second time he has quit the whips office, having 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.

When Mr Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019 he was moved to the Foreign Office as minister for Europe and the Americas before returning to the whips office for a third time.

His departure comes just days after Oliver Dowden quit as party co-chairman in the wake of the Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton by-election losses.

It leaves Mr Johnson, who returned from the Nato summit on Thursday after nine days out of the country, with another headache with two crucial roles to fill.