UK government faces watered new scandal as deputy whip resigns

LONDON (AP) — The British government faces another watered-down scandal after the deputy chief whip resigned from his post following a drunken incident this week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing calls Friday to kick him out of the Conservative Party.

Chris Pincher, whose role was to maintain discipline among Tory MPs, handed Johnson a letter of resignation on Thursday.

« I drank way too much » Wednesday night, Pincher said in her letter. « I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologize to you and everyone involved. »

But he said he would remain a Tory lawmaker and continue to support Johnson from the back seats of parliament.

Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief whip added to Johnson’s woes, which have included other scandals like « partygate » and a Tory lawmaker resigning for watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

Johnson, who also recently survived a no-confidence vote, had just returned from Group of Seven and NATO summits and was looking to put those embarrassments and two recent by-election defeats behind him.

British tabloid The Sun reported that Pincher groped two men on Wednesday night at a private club in London for the Conservative Party. It was the second time Pincher had left a post as government whip. In November 2017, he resigned as junior whip after complaining about making an unwanted pass to former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.

But Pincher was eventually brought back to a government post by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 as deputy chief whip. When Johnson took over in July 2019, Pincher was moved to the Foreign Office as deputy minister before returning again to the office of government whips.

Britain’s opposition Labor Party says Johnson’s government has questions to answer about why Pincher was appointed to the post in the first place.

« This latest episode shows how the standards of public life have been degraded under Boris Johnson’s watch, » said Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner. « The Conservative Party is so mired in sordidness and scandal that it is utterly unable to meet the challenges facing the British people. »

Frank Griffiths, Associated Press


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