Following the resignation of a former Tory MP with immediate effect over allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use, Rishi Sunak will face another potentially damaging by-election.
David Warburton resigned from his position as representative for Somerton and Frome, criticizing a “extraordinarily difficult” 14 months spent defending himself against “malicious allegations” in his farewell statement.
He complained that the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) had not given him a fair hearing and had prohibited him from “speaking out” while it looked into the allegations.
In his resignation letter he said had been left with “no choice” but to provoke “the upheaval of a by-election”, adding: “It is my hope that, in so doing, I can freely illuminate the methods of an oversight system not fit for purpose, so that friends and colleagues in the House can see the perverted process by which their own judgement may at any time be freighted.”
Mr. Warburton acknowledged using cocaine in a Mail on Sunday interview after consuming “tons of incredibly potent” Japanese whiskey, but he refuted allegations that he had harassed a female political assistant in his Westminster apartment.
The Prime Minister now has additional issues to deal with on top of the consequences from all but one of his predecessors resigning. The resignation will result in an election contest in his Somerset district.
Despite having a 19,213 majority and having seized the seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2015, the party is already stepping up its efforts to retake it.
Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Time after time the Conservatives have mired themselves in sleaze and scandal neglecting the issues that really matter to people. Then they decided it was okay to leave local people in this seat without any proper representation at all.
“This by-election will be a clear contest between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour finished third last time and are completely out of the race. The people of Somerton and Frome need a local champion and they can have that at the next election by choosing our local Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Dyke.”
Meanwhile Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Shabana Mahmood accused the Prime Minister of being “too weak to act himself”.
“Yet again, we see a Tory MP resigning in disgrace, after Rishi Sunak was too weak to act himself. Enough is enough,” she said.
“Britain can’t afford this weak Conservative prime minister with a party too divided to govern as families struggle with the cost of living. It’s time to turn the page on 13 years of Tory chaos. We need a general election now and a Labour government led by Keir Starmer.”
After the Tory whip was suspended last April because to the allegations, Mr. Warburton had been serving in the Commons as an independent.
After Boris Johnson and his ally Nigel Adams quit, the Prime Minister now faces four potential by-elections, with two of them already set for July 20 in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Selby, and Ainsty.
In order to look into how she was rejected for a place in the Lords on the list, Nadine Dorries, who had also announced her intention to resign due to the aftermath from the former prime minister’s resignation honors, has decided to stay.