> ‘He needs to resign’: Chris Pincher’s constituents on their disgraced MP | Politics

‘He needs to resign’: Chris Pincher’s constituents on their disgraced MP | Politics

It has been nearly four weeks since claims first emerged that Christopher Pincher had drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly.

The revelation, and the suggestion that the prime minister knew about similar allegations against Pincher before appointing him deputy chief whip, proved the straw that broke the camel’s back for Boris Johnson’s scandal-ridden premiership.

The health secretary resigned, the chancellor resigned, more than 50 further ministers resigned, and – finally, seven days later – the prime minister resigned. Pincher, however, remains MP for Tamworth.

For Alan Musgrave, an ardent supporter of the Conservative party who has lived in the Staffordshire town for 45 years, it is high time his parliamentary representative resigned too.

Alan Musgrave
Alan Musgrave: ‘He’s got no credibility.’ Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Guardian

“He’s got no credibility going forward,” said Musgrave, a 62-year-old retired insurance underwriter. “I don’t understand, in future, how he can stand up in front of people and tell them things when his own personal values are going to be put into question.”

There is a growing tide of resentment building in the constituency, which Pincher now represents as an independent after being suspended by the Conservative party. He has insisted that he wants to return to his duties, despite a protest outside his constituency office and nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition calling on him to go.

“He needs to resign immediately,” said Carol Clarke, a retired nurse and Labour supporter who has previously voted Conservative. “But I’m not surprised he hasn’t as this government is possibly the most corrupt government we’ve ever had. I’m nearly 67 and I’ve never known anything like it.

Carol Clarke
Carol Clarke: ‘I’ve never known anything like it.’ Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Guardian

“When the man at the top is doing his best to break all the rules, MPs are just going to do what he does.”

Musgrave said he thought Pincher should stand down for the sake of the party. “It won’t stop me voting Conservative again, because it’s more about the wider picture than one individual who should now step aside,” he said.

One 34-year-old woman and Labour supporter in the town, who asked not to be named, said she was unsure whether there would be enough momentum behind the campaign to push Pincher out.

“I think there’s a lot of apathy. People forget quite quickly, but I think it will come back up the next time people come to vote,” she said. “I don’t think he would win for Tamworth next time round. But ultimately, he hasn’t been very honest with the constituents of Tamworth, so he needs to go.”

Not everyone in the town is calling for him to resign. Derek Nickells, the proprietor of Tamworth Toolbox in the town centre, felt that the benefits Pincher brought to the town as an MP outweighed the allegations against him.

Derek Nickells
Derek Nickells: ‘I think he would get voted back in.’ Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Guardian

“Pincher is fine, he is good for the town,” said 55-year-old Nickells. “Whenever I’ve brought up any issues, you get a headed letter from the houses of parliament back. I’ve got them all upstairs. He definitely addresses the issues. And I think he would get voted back in.”

His friend, maintenance engineer Mark Harper, 50, agreed. “I went to the hustings and everything he said was bang on,” he said. “They’re dragging up the past and using it against him.”

Mark Harper
Mark Harper: ‘They’re dragging up the past and using it against him.’ Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Guardian

But Pincher has been noticeably absent from his constituency in the past few weeks. “We’ve had loads of events on in Tamworth recently, lots of things for the Commonwealth Games, and he is just not here,” said Huw Loxton, 45, one of the leaders of the protests outside Pincher’s office and in the town centre in recent weeks.

“How long is he not going to be at work for? Whether he’s replying to people who’ve got legitimate concerns we don’t know. Who knows if people are getting the help they need?”

A spokesperson for Pincher’s constituency office said he was on leave of absence, focused on receiving medical support. “Chris’s constituency team continues to operate as normal both in the office and working from home to deal with constituent queries and support local people on a range of issues,” they said.

Loxton, who has voted for Pincher twice in the past, said that under the current rules, there was nothing residents could do other than “appealing for him to do the honourable thing”. Another protest has been planned for 13 August.

Boris Johnson with Christopher Pincher
Boris Johnson with Christopher Pincher. Photograph: Twitter

MPs can only be recalled by constituents if jailed for a crime, convicted of making false or misleading expenses claims, or suspended from the House of Commons for at least 10 sitting days.

The latter may happen once parliament’s independent complaints and grievance scheme completes its investigation into Pincher’s conduct, but Loxton said residents don’t want to wait that long.

“It could take months. Technically, he could stay like this until the next general election,” Loxton said. “He has already said that he embarrassed himself and others, so he may not be admitting what actually happened, but he’s admitting that he’s done something and to us, he has embarrassed the town and he should go because of that.”

Pincher’s constituency office has been approached for comment.

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