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UK Tories mired in new scandal over MP’s drunken behaviour

LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a fresh political headache yesterday following the resignation of the deputy chief whip of his ruling Conservatives over allegations he drunkenly groped two men.

In a letter to Johnson sent late on Thursday, Tory Member of Parliament (MP) Chris Pincher said he was quitting his post after he drank “far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people” the previous evening.

Numerous reports said he had also been accused of groping two men in front of others at the private members Carlton Club in central London, prompting complaints to the Conservative party.

His departure from the whips office and Johnson’s embattled government is the latest in a string of sexual impropriety scandals involving Tory MPs in recent months.

It also follows a catalogue of controversies to hit Johnson himself, including the so-called “Partygate” affair that led his own lawmakers to trigger a no-confidence vote in him last month which he narrowly survived.

Chris Pincher in Downing Street, London. PHOTO: AP

The resignation leaves Johnson with another post to fill in his senior ranks after the chairman of the Conservatives quit last month after the party lost two by-elections.

A Downing Street source told British media that Pincher would face no further action from the party and would remain a Conservative MP.

But that prompted an immediate backlash, with Johnson facing calls to suspend him from the parliamentary party and launch a further internal investigation into his behaviour.

Pincher only took up his latest role of deputy chief whip – which involves enforcing party discipline – in February.

However, it is the second time he has quit the whips office, after he resigned as a junior whip in November 2017 following a complaint that he made an unwanted pass at a former Olympic rower and potential Conservative election candidate.

In his resignation letter on Thursday, Pincher said quitting was “the right thing to do in the circumstances”, arguing “I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to”.

“I want to assure you that you will continue to have my full support from the back benches,” he added.

The main opposition Labour party said the episode showed “how far standards in public life have been degraded on Boris Johnson’s watch”.