Whipless MPs total rises to 18 after Mark Menzies suspended by Tories

The number of Independent MPs has now risen to 18 after Mark Menzies lost the Conservative whip over allegations he misused campaign funds.

A series of scandals and disciplinary problems have seen a large number of MPs lose the party whip over the course of the current Parliament, with several going on to either resign their seats or be recalled by their constituents.

Of the current group, which totals three more MPs than the Liberal Democrats, includes eight former Conservatives and seven former Labour MPs, along with one each from the SNP, DUP and Plaid Cymru.

Another 20 MPs have either resigned their party’s whip or had the whip withdrawn since the 2019 election, before either leaving Parliament, joining another party or having the whip restored.

Below is a list of those independent MPs and the reasons they lost their party whips.

– Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)

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Diane Abbott lost the Labour whip after comments about Jewish, Irish and Traveller people (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The veteran Labour MP lost the whip in April last year after writing a letter to The Observer newspaper in which she suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism “all their lives”.

She subsequently apologised, suggesting “errors arose” in her initial draft letter to the newspaper, but remains subject to an internal investigation by the Labour Party and has not had the whip returned to her.

– Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

Crispin Blunt had the Conservative whip withdrawn following his arrest on suspicion of rape and possession of controlled substances in October 2023.

He remains on police bail and has said he is “confident” the investigation will not result in a charge.

– Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)

Andrew Bridgen had the Conservative whip suspended in January 2023 after he tweeted comments comparing the Covid vaccine to the Holocaust. Tory chief whip Simon Hart said Mr Bridgen had “crossed a line, causing great offence in the process”.

He later joined the Reclaim Party, led by former actor Laurence Fox, before choosing to sit as an Independent again seven months later over a “difference in direction”.

– Nick Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne East)

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Nick Brown lost the Labour whip pending the outcome of an internal investigation into a complaint against him (Aaron Chown/PA)

Long-serving Labour MP and former chief whip Nick Brown lost the whip in September 2022 pending the outcome of an internal investigation into a complaint against him. The nature of the complaint has not been made public.

– Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had the whip removed and was suspended by the party in 2020 after responding to a highly critical report on antisemitism within the party by saying the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

He subsequently had his party membership reinstated and attempted to clarify his comments by saying concerns about antisemitism are “neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’”.

However, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to readmit him to the ranks.

– Geraint Davies (Swansea West)

Labour withdrew the whip from Geraint Davies over allegations of sexual harassment made in June last year.

He is also facing allegations that he “boasted” about bringing sex workers into Parliament for drinks.

The party is carrying out its own investigation into the claims, which Mr Davies denies.

– Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley)

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resigns as DUP leader
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resigned as DUP leader after he was charged with historical sex offences (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resigned as leader of the DUP in March after he was charged with historical sex offences.

The 61-year-old politician is due to appear in court in Newry, County Down, on April 24, having been arrested and charged in relation to non-recent sexual allegations.

– Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr)

Plaid Cymru withdrew the whip from Jonathan Edwards in May 2020 after the MP was arrested on suspicion of assault. He later accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife.

In August 2022, Plaid Cymru said it would readmit Mr Edwards to its Westminster group, but the MP chose to remain an Independent after his wife denounced the decision, saying this would allow a “period of calm reflection”.

– Matt Hancock (West Suffolk)

Former health secretary Matt Hancock was stripped of the Conservative whip in November 2022 after announcing he had flown to Australia to appear on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! despite Parliament being in session.

Mr Hancock subsequently announced his intention to stand down as an MP at the next election.

– Julian Knight (Solihull)

Julian Knight sexual assault allegation
Julian Knight had the Conservative whip suspended after it emerged he was the subject of a sexual assault allegation (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Senior Tory Julian Knight had the whip suspended in December 2022 after it emerged that he was the subject of an allegation of serious sexual assault reported to the Metropolitan Police.

The investigation was subsequently referred to Essex Police, who closed the inquiry in February this year after deciding there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

Mr Knight welcomed the decision, saying he would take “a little time now to choose my next steps and recover my mental health” and adding that he would “under no circumstances” seek the return of the Conservative whip.

– Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Veteran SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil was expelled from the party in August 2023 following a long-running dispute with its leadership.

He was initially suspended from the SNP’s parliamentary party in July 2023 after a row with chief whip Brendan O’Hara, but then refused to rejoin the group once his suspension ended.

In a statement, he accused the party of a lack of urgency in pursuing independence and was then expelled, with the SNP saying MPs should not “pick and choose” when they hold the party whip.

– Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

Labour suspended Conor McGinn in December 2022 pending an internal party investigation into a complaint against him. The nature of the complaint has not been made public.

– Mark Menzies (Fylde)

Mark Menzies lost the Conservative whip late on Wednesday after The Times published allegations that he had misused campaign funds.

The MP is alleged to have used money from donors to cover medical expenses and to reimburse staff who provided him with thousands of pounds to pay off “bad people” who had locked him in a flat.

Mr Menzies disputes the allegations and is the subject of an internal investigation by the Conservative Party.

– Kate Osamor (Edmonton)

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Kate Osamor was suspended by Labour over remarks she made on social media about Gaza (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament/PA)

Labour suspended the whip from Kate Osamor over comments she made in January 2024 in which she appeared to say in a post about Holocaust Memorial Day that the war in Gaza should be remembered as a genocide.

Ms Osamor apologised for “any offence caused” by her remarks but remains suspended.

Another Labour MP suspended over remarks about the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Andy McDonald, had the whip restored in March after an investigation found he had not broken party rules.

– Rob Roberts (Delyn)

Rob Roberts was suspended by the Conservatives in May 2021 after parliamentary authorities found he had made repeated and unwanted advances towards a member of staff.

Mr Roberts apologised for his actions and was suspended from the Commons for six weeks, with several MPs urging him to resign.

– Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

Long-serving MP and former Army officer Bob Stewart relinquished the Conservative whip in November 2023 following his conviction for racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.

Mr Stewart’s conviction was overturned on appeal in February, but he remains under investigation by Parliament’s standards watchdog and continues to sit as an Independent.

– Claudia Webbe (Leicester East)

Claudia Webbe court case
Claudia Webbe has sat as an Independent since being convicted of harassment (Aaron Chown/PA)

Claudia Webbe has sat as an Independent since September 2020, when she lost the Labour whip after being charged with harassment.

She was convicted of the offence a year later and given a suspended 10-week prison sentence and ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

In May 2022, she lost an appeal against her conviction, but had her sentence reduced to 80 hours of community service.

– William Wragg (Hazel Grove)

Former select committee chairman and vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs gave up his party’s whip earlier this month after being implicated in a Westminster honeytrap scandal.

Mr Wragg admitted giving the personal phone numbers of some of his colleagues to a man he met on a dating app, who subsequently contacted those people in a suspected scam.

The MP said he had passed on the numbers because he feared the man would otherwise release compromising information about him.