Boris Johnson latest news: Senior Tory says party ‘dithered’ over Neil Parish porn claims

Neil Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes has accused her party of “dither and delay” in taking action against Neil Parish following claims that he watched pornography in the House of Commons.

Two female colleagues reported Mr Parish, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, the Tory chief whip on Tuesday but his name was only made public on Friday, at which point he was suspended from the parliament party.

Ms Nokes, who chairs the women and equalities Commons committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program earlier that the hold up “felt like unnecessary dither and delay”. She did not, however, go as far as calling for her colleague to resign before the investigation is concluded.

It follows criticism from cross-party MPs, some of who accused the Touries of “shameful” behavior in slowing down the decision to name and sanction Mr Parish. Caroline Dinenage, a Conservative MP who sits on the committee chaired by Ms Nokes, said she could not see how Mr Parish’s “position is sustainable” and branded the decision to allow him to remain as an MP for now “utterly bizarre”.

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Watch: Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister

Neil Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:45

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Tory party ‘very laddish’ under PM, says former minister

The Conservative Party has become “very laddish” under Boris Johnson’s leadership, a former minister for women has said.

Speaking in the wake of MP Neil Parish’s suspension from the party for watching porn in the Commons chamber, Anne Milton said she was “angry” that those at the top of the party had failed to lead by example by showing high standards of behaviour, including over the Partygate scandal.

Ms Milton, who served in the governments of David Cameron and Theresa May, but was stripped of the Tory whip by Johnson for refusing to vote for a no-deal Brexit and lost her Guildford seat after 14 years standing as an independent in 2019, said women had been given a less prominent role under the current leader.

Asked if there was a culture of sexism in the Tory Party, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s over two years since I left politics and it feels like it’s got worse.”

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more:

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:27

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Tory whips accused of ‘dither and delay’ in dealing with porn MP

Let’s hear more from Tory MP Caroline Nokes now, who has accused the Conservative whips of “dither and delay” in suspending Neil Parish from the parliamentary party over claims he watched pornography in the Commons.

Two female colleagues reported Mr Parish to the chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, on Tuesday but his name was only made public on Friday.

“I felt by leaving it until Friday before we knew that action had been taken by the whips that it felt like unnecessary dither and delay,” Ms Nokes told BBC Radio 4.

Appearing on the Today program after Ms Nokes, safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean added: “I agree with pretty much everything that she said. I think it is right that action has been taken, that the chief whip has taken the action he has taken. There clearly needed to be some time to establish the veracity, the facts of the case.”

Told Mr Parish was not denying watching pornography, she said: “That’s right, he wasn’t.”

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:15

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Senior Tory doubts Parish’s ability to conduct business while under review

A senior Tory MP says it will be “difficult” for Neil Parish to spend the required time in investigation parliament while he is under for allegedly watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, did not call for her colleague to immediately stand down, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s right those investigations are carried out before any further action is taken.”

However, when asked if Mr Parish should continue as a select committee chair, she said: “That’s a matter for Neil to discuss with the party whips and to take a position on, but I think whilst he’s under investigation it’s going to make it very difficult for him to be in the Commons as much as he needs to be.”

Mr Parish, who was named yesterday as the infamous porn-watching MP, currently chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

(PA)

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:57

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Watch: Parish speaks in Commons debate day after porn-watching allegation

Neil Parish MP speaks in Commons debate one day after porn-watching allegation

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:39

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Labor: ‘Shameful’ delay by Tories in acting over Commons porn MP

Labor has accused Conservative party whips of delaying action over the MP accused of watching pornography in parliament, saying it was “shameful” that it was three days before Neil Parish was suspended from the party and referred himself for investigation.

The 65-year-old MP for Tiverton and Honiton is understood to have been identified to chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris by two female MPs on Tuesday, but his name was not revealed until Friday, when he submitted himself for an inquiry by Commons standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.

Despite insisting he will not quit while the inquiry takes place, Mr. Parish is coming under pressure from fellow Tories to resign immediately, with Caroline Dinenage, who sits on the women and equalities committee, saying: “I cannot see how his position is sustainable . It is just utterly bizarre.”

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:36

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Minister rejects calls for Parish to stand down immediately

More from Rachel Maclean now, who, despite saying Neil Parish should be booted out of the Tory party if he is found guilty of watching porn in the Commons, has rejected calls for him to stand down.

Asked if it was appropriate for him to carry on, Ms Maclean told Times Radio she “genuinely” believed that was a “matter for him”.

But she went on: “Of course there are robust processes to support constituents, any member of the public who wants to see their MP, and all of those matters are very much at the forefront of the investigation system that we have.

“Clearly if people are under investigation for certain issues it is right that’s taken into account on how they carry out their duties.”

Asked if she was showing double standards, Ms Maclean insisted it was not “business as normal” for Mr Parish due to the very fact he is under investigation. “And I’m confident that the appropriate measures will be put in place to safeguard any of his constituents, particularly women and girls,” she added.

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:25

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Parish should be kicked out of party if found guilty, says Tory minister

Safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean has been doing the media rounds this morning on behalf of the government.

Asked about the Neil Parish porn saga, Ms Maclean maintained her position that her colleague should be kicked out of the party if he is found guilty.

She did, however, say it was right for the probe to take place before possible action against Mr Parish is taken by the Tory party.

“Clearly if this is substantiated and those claims turn out to be true, of course I stand by what I said, but at the same time there is now an investigation so it wouldn’t be helpful for me to speculate on the specific outcomes, ” she told Sky News, adding:

“This type of behavior has no place in any workplace let alone, but I think everybody would accept that when there’s an allegation that’s made… it isn’t really for us, as colleagues, to sit on judgment on another colleague, it is for that process to take.

“I’ve absolutely every confidence in the chief whip, he’s acting incredibly quickly, I don’t see why the investigation can’t be concluded very quickly and I’m certain that appropriate action will then follow from that.”

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:16

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Labor calls for Parish to resign ‘right away’ if claims are true

Harriet Harman – who is the longest serving female MP in the Commons – has insisted the Tory MP under investigation for allegedly watching pornography in the Commons should quit “right away” if the claims are true.

The Labor MP said the incident was a “new low” for Westminster.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 after Mr Parish’s name became public knowledge, Ms Harman said: “If this is what he has done, he should stand down from parliament right away.

“It’s not right for him to go through the investigation process if that is what he has done. Clearly he is not fit to be in parliament. He should accept that and not drag the processes out.”

As well as Ms Harman, Labor’s shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire express anger with the government, accusing it of having known about the “disgusting behaviour” for days and having attempted to “cover it up”.

Liberal Democrat representative leader Daisy Cooper called on Boris Johnson to “tell Neil Parish to immediately resign.”

And environment committee member Kirsty Blackman, of the SNP, said Mr Parish should at the least resign as chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:07

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Parish’s full statement on porn-watching investigation

Here’s the statement in full on Neil Parish’s website, which makes clear his intention to keep acting as an MP until the investigation into him is complete:

“Following recent claims regarding an MP’s use of their mobile phone in Parliament, I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in the House of Commons.

“I will be fully cooperating with any investigation, and whilst it is ongoing I will continue to perform my duties as MP for Tiverton and Honiton.

“I will not be making further comments at this stage.”

Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:02

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