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Two senior female Tory MPs have called on Boris Johnson to expel his former deputy chief whip after he resigned on Thursday night amid allegations he groped two men.
Chris Pincher resigned from his post on Thursday night, saying he had “embarrassed myself and other people” after having had “far too much” to drink.
The Sun reported that he stood down after allegedly “groping” two male guests at the Carlton Club – a Tory Party private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly – the night before.
Despite quitting as whip, Pincher remains a sitting Conservative MP, which has sparked anger that potentially serious allegations are not being treated appropriately by the PM.
Two senior MPs, Karen Bradley and Caroline Nokes, have now called for Pincher to have the whip removed.
They called for a “zero-tolerance policy” on sexual misconduct following an “inconsistent and unclear approach” by the Tory party to such incidents.
They added that the party, and the government, was at risk of "serious reputational damage" over how it has handled allegations of sexual assault, and called for anyone being investigated over such allegations to be suspended from the party.
Labour's Yvette Cooper also called for Pincher to be suspended while the allegations are investigated. "This is about sexual assault," she said.
The scandal also threatens to engulf the prime minister, who is facing growing scrutiny over whether he was aware of allegations concerning Pincher's conduct before promoting him to deputy chief whip - a ministerial job which also includes providing a welfare role to MPs in the party.
On Friday, it was reported Tory MPs warned the PM about concerns over Pincher's behaviour in February when he carried out a mini-reshuffle.
A source told Politico: "He [Pincher] was absolutely livid when he didn’t get made chief.
“As soon as his name was in the running, people went into No. 10, including MPs, with new allegations about what he’d done.”
But in a lobby briefing to journalists on Friday, a No 10 spokesperson refused to give clarity over what allegations Johnson was aware of before making Pincher a minister.
When asked for details about what the prime minister knew about Pincher, a spokesperson said he didn't know of "specific" allegations.
"I’ve been clear that the prime minister wasn’t aware of any specific allegations before the appointment," he said.
Watch: Tory deputy chief whip resigns over 'groping' claims
"[And] the fact that the minister went through the process that every other minister goes through and that there was no basis to stop the appointment.”
When asked whether the matter was “closed”, the prime minister’s spokesperson said: “He is no longer a minister...There are processes in place for people to come forward to raise concerns through the independent complaints and grievance scheme - but he is no longer a minister.”
When asked if there would be an investigation into Pincher, the spokesperson added: “I’m not aware of any cabinet office investigation.”
This marks the second time in his political career Pincher has been forced to resign as party whip.
In 2017, he was accused of making an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
Having referred himself to both the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure, he was brought back by Theresa May as deputy chief whip in January 2018.
Pincher's resignation marks the fifth Conservative MP involved in a sexual assault scandal this year so far.