The UK government faces another drunken scandal after the deputy chief whip resigned after a drunken incident and Prime Minister Boris Johnson was called on to expel him from the Conservative Party.
Chris Pincher, whose role has been to maintain discipline among Tory MPs, filed a letter of resignation with Johnson on Thursday.
“I drank way too much” on Wednesday night, Pincher said in the 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 those involved.”
But he said he would remain a Conservative legislator and continue to support Johnson from the back seats of parliament.
Johnson did not answer when reporters yelled at him outside his 10 Downing St. residence asking if he would suspend Pincher from the party. A spokesman for Johnson’s office later said the prime minister finds Pincher’s behavior “unacceptable.”
Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief added to the prime minister’s problems.
Johnson survived a no-confidence vote last month provoked by lawmakers from his own party, but came out weakened since more than 40 percent of conservatives voted against him.
Most of the discontent with Johnson’s leadership has centered around investigations into drunken parties being held in government buildings when the coronavirus lockdown banned group gatherings. A Conservative lawmaker also resigned for watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
After returning from this week’s Group of Seven and NATO summits, Johnson wanted to put that embarrassment — and his party’s defeat in two special parliamentary elections — behind him.
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden resigned last week after the Tories lost two seats in by-elections. But Johnson remained defiant amid calls for his own resignation, saying he would not call an early election. The next general election is to be held in 2024.
The British tabloid The Sun reported that Pincher groped two men in a private members’ club on Wednesday evening. London’s Metropolitan Police said they had not received any reports of assault during the event.
It was the second time Pincher, 52, had quit a government whip job. In November 2017, he resigned as a junior whip after a complaint that he had made an unwanted pass on former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
But then Prime Minister Theresa May brought him back to a government position in 2018 by making him deputy head whip. When Johnson took over in July 2019, Pincher was moved to the State Department as a deputy secretary before returning to the whips office.
Britain’s opposition Labor party said Johnson’s government had questions to answer as to why Pincher had been put in the position in the first place.
“This latest episode shows how far standards in public life have fallen under the watchful eye of Boris Johnson,” said Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner. “The Conservative Party is so mired in sloppiness and scandal that it is utterly unable to meet the challenges facing the British people.”