OPINION - Tory MP Neil Parish accused of watching *that* in the Commons

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

In the last few minutes, the Conservative MP accused of watching pornography on his phone while inside the Commons chamber has been named as Neil Parish.

The MP for Tiverton and Honiton has had the Tory whip removed and is to be investigated by the Standards Committee. Parish, 65, who is chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, also faces a probe by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme after the allegations surfaced during a meeting of Conservative MPs on Tuesday.

There is never an ideal time for an accusation like this to be made, but 15 minutes before a (theoretical) 4pm newsletter send time was not it. The news will inevitably drag this story into the weekend, rather covering up what was an interesting story (and what I was going to write about).

Our Political Editor Nicholas Cecil reported that Labour has moved ahead of the Tories as the best party for tax by 32 per cent to 25, in a reversal of where the two parties stood in December 2019. It is the party’s best result on the issue since 2012.

It is not necessarily surprising after the rises in National Insurance and income tax threshold freezes. Of course, Rishi Sunak can reasonably point to some tax cuts, such as the raising of NI contribution thresholds and the temporary 5p-a-litre cut in fuel duty. But everyone from the OBR to the IFS will tell you the tax burden is rising.

As the cost-of-living crisis grows worse, Rishi Sunak suggested he may be open to a windfall tax on energy companies if they fail to invest sufficiently to boost supplies. This would of course represent a major change in policy. But his Spring Statement could hardly be characterised as an overreaction to high taxes and falling standards of living.

Whether it be tax or personal probity, reputations are hard-won and easily lost.

Elsewhere in the paper, so often the target of sexist and classist attacks, this week’s Basic Instinct comments were just the latest attempt to undermine the deputy opposition leader. But why is she such a threat? Martha Gill reports.

In the comment pages, Emily Sheffield asks how can Parliament tackle sexual violence when pest MPs continue to roam? She also reflects on her debut with Tom Newton Dunn on TalkTV.

Meanwhile, my sadly departing colleague Samuel Fishwick leaves us with a delightful piece on marrying couples who blend their surnames. Nice idea, Sam muses, but he doesn’t want a case of the Fishroyds and whatever ointment that would necessitate.

And Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, says it is creativity that makes us human.

Finally, mar-teenies and Negronis the size of your thumb... miniature drinks are beginning to catch on — but where’s the fun in that, asks David Ellis?

Have a lovely long weekend.

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