Sunak and Tugendhat address plans to clean up Westminster, but others silent

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Three of the remaining Conservative leadership candidates have remained silent on how they plan to clean up Westminster after a series of scandals involving sexual misconduct.

Only Rishi Sunak and Tom Tugendhat’s campaigns responded to questions from the PA news agency asking how they would address the issue, which returned to prominence after Conservative MP Chris Pincher was accused of groping two people at the Carlton Club in London.

A spokesman for Mr Sunak’s campaign said there needs to be “a cross-party approach to take forward any reforms to ensure that kind of behaviour is not repeated”, while a member of Mr Tugendhat’s team emphasised that the former Army officer would represent “a clean start” for the party.

Asked specifically whether Mr Pincher should remain an MP, both campaigns said the investigation into his behaviour should be allowed to conclude first.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: “We need to let the independent investigation conclude. It’s right that Chris Pincher has had the whip removed and cannot attend Parliament.”

Cabinet reshuffle
Former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher remains under investigation after allegations of sexual assault (Aaron Chown/PA)

Speaking to Iain Dale on LBC on Thursday evening, Mr Tugendhat was asked whether he would restore the Conservative whip to Mr Pincher.

He replied: “You are innocent until you are proven guilty, but if what is alleged is proved then no.”

Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch’s campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

Prior to Mr Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief whip and questions about what Boris Johnson knew regarding previous allegations about the MP, Westminster had seen renewed concern about MPs’ conduct.

Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned his seat after it was revealed he had been caught watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber, while the SNP’s Patrick Grady was suspended from the House for two days after an independent panel found he had behaved inappropriately towards a party worker at a social event in 2016.

In the wake of Mr Parish’s resignation, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle proposed establishing a cross-party Speaker’s conference to address the issue of misconduct at Westminster.

Former Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, who spearheaded the establishment of the current complaints system, backed Sir Lindsay’s proposals.

Ms Leadsom is now a key figure in Ms Mordaunt’s leadership campaign.

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