Source: Labour List UK
Tory MP Andrew Griffiths was forced to resign from his ministerial post in July, when it was revealed that he sent thousands of mostly violent and sexual text messages to two female constituents. Now, today of all days, the backbencher has had the party whip restored. Griffiths will be able to cast a ballot in the Tory leadership confidence vote tonight, and has confirmed that he plans to support Theresa May.
“Theresa May has shown huge determination and bravery in negotiating and arguing for her deal,” the MP told Burton Live. “I believe she remains the best person to deliver the Brexit people in Burton and Uttoxeter voted for, and I will be supporting her in tonight’s ballot.”
The Sunday Mirror‘s report on the sexual misconduct allegations detailed how the married MP referred to his constituents as the “ti**y twins” and barraged them with requests for sexual images and videos. Griffiths was later suspended from the party after a serving Tory councillor made claims of bullying and inappropriate touching.
Dawn Butler, Labour’s women and equalities spokesperson, commented: “It is a betrayal of women for the Tories to let an MP who was suspended for sexual harassment back into their party just to allow them to vote for Theresa May in the leadership challenge.”
How can @Theresa_May call herself a feminist when she lets an MP who was suspended for sexual harassment back into the Conservative Party to vote for her in the leadership challenge? This is a betrayal of women.https://t.co/JdbpKXq30n
— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) December 12, 2018
There is no indication that the investigation into Griffiths’ conduct has even been concluded. And the move could prove unwise for the PM’s chances anyway. The suggestion that a May loyalist was given back the whip to boost the Prime Minister’s numbers runs the risk of enraging Tory MPs, and could outweigh the benefit of adding one vote to the ‘yes’ pile.
Update: The story broken earlier by The Sun‘s Matt Dathan has now been confirmed – Charlie Elphicke has also had the Tory whip restored. The MP for Dover was suspended from the party in 2017 after “serious allegations” against him were referred to the police. Earlier this year, it was made public that a rape allegation had been made against him and Elphicke was accused of sex offences against two of his staff members. He has denied any wrongdoing. He is still under police investigation.