Another political headache for Rishi Sunak – as things start to look like John Major years of scandal | Politics News

This is a story that is greater than only a marmalade dropper. It’s a narrative so astounding you may have to choose your self up off the ground. 

Mark Menzies MP final December allegedly made a 3.15am cellphone name to an aged celebration volunteer asking for £5,000 as a matter of “life or death” as a result of he had been locked up by “bad people”.

To safe his launch, the cash was paid by his workplace supervisor from her private account and reimbursed from funds raised from donors, according to The Times. The newspaper additionally alleges Mr Menzies obtained hundreds of kilos from marketing campaign funds into his private checking account which have been used for private medical bills.

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I’ll say from the outset that these are claims Mr Menzies, the MP for the Lancashire seat of Fylde, “strongly disputes”.

In an announcement to The Times, he mentioned: “I strongly dispute the allegations put to me. I have fully complied with all the rules for declarations. As there is an investigation ongoing I will not be commenting further.”

But when the story broke, Conservative chief whip Simon Hart suspended Mr Menzies from the parliamentary celebration pending the result of an investigation.

It is a mega story. Not simply because of the staggering, astounding, eye-popping – take your choose – nature of the allegations, however the questions it throws up: If this had occurred over three months in the past, why is it solely now that the Conservative Party are suspending the whip? Was there misuse of cash and what are the implications of that? Can Mr Menzies actually proceed as an MP?

And how a lot will this harm the Conservatives, who’ve for weeks been chasing Angela Rayner over allegations – which she denies – she averted paying capital good points tax on the sale of her council home a decade in the past, when these allegations round their very own MP have been swirling within the background?

‘Surprised if he lasts the week’

First off, Conservative peer Ruth Davidson thinks Mr Menzies can have no choice however to resign and set off a by-election in one other hazard zone seat given the Conservatives have a 16,000 majority – the kind of lead that Labour and Lib Dems have been repeatedly overturning in by-elections of late.

Ruth Davidson describes the story as “jaw-dropping” on Electoral Dysfunction this week, and reckons that Mr Menzies goes to have to resign, saying she’d be “surprised” if he lasts the week.

She provides: “The Tories have been supposedly advised about this three months in the past, and that is the primary we’re listening to about it.

“And by studying the story, it seems to be very a lot like this woman advised her native affiliation, raised the crimson flag, then advised the parliamentary authorities.

“The chief whip then advised CCHQ, which is Tory HQ. Nothing’s occurred and now she’s quoted within the newspapers.

“So, I imply, it does seem that there is native affiliation wrath about the best way they have been handled by this MP. So, , I believe this can be a very tough one, and I might discover it tough to imagine that an investigation will be held and he will be cleared in time to stand a basic election.

“In fact, I would be surprised if he survives the week here and doesn’t just resign.”

Jess Philips agrees and tells us that he’ll “have no choice but to resign and force a by-election”.

Ruth thinks there’s one other by-election headache on the horizon for Rishi Sunak. Pic: PA

For apparent causes, that will probably be one thing the celebration and Rishi Sunak will need to keep away from, with the Conservatives already being hammered within the three by-elections held this yr and anticipating to lose Blackpool South subsequent month.

Half of Labour’s prime ten by-election swings in historical past have come within the final 18 months.

Mr Sunak won’t need any extra file breakers if he might help it on this election yr.

“I don’t think Mark Menzies wants to walk away right now. But I also don’t think that the Conservatives want to have a by-election this close to a general election,” explains Ruth.

“Yes, they’ve a 16,000 majority, however then in the event that they lose it, that makes it worse.

“However, it is the kind of seat the place if it is simply within the combine as half of a basic election, it is most likely not proper on the prime of the type of goal seats for the Labour Party.

“So they probably get to hold the seat if he stays there. Even as independent, the Tories more than likely hold the seat at a general. If it goes to a by-election, all bets are off.”

Ruth Davidson on Mark Menzies allegations

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‘It feels finish of days’

Whatever occurs subsequent, I’ve little doubt that his story will keep within the headlines, giving the prime minister one more headache forward of the native elections on 2 May that he simply does not want as he makes some progress on his proposed smoking ban and flagship Rwanda invoice.

Ruth likens the string of scandals to the John Major years, when his authorities was rocked by a sequence of unflattering revelations, from the Neil Hamilton “cash-for-questions” scandal to tales of further-marital affairs.

She says: “I believe in phrases of the temper within the Tory celebration, there’s that sense that each time we start to get on the entrance foot about one thing, one thing comes and knocks us off.

“And additionally simply the quantity now of scandals which are coming alongside.

“It feels type of finish of days. It feels like the 1992 to 1997 type of parliament.

“And you possibly can type of see the celebration type of splintering in entrance of your eyes and, and yeah, I imply, you’ll most likely get on to it, however within the week that you simply even have Liz Truss reminding all people that she exists, , it isn’t a great week for the Conservative Party.”

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Jess additionally thinks there is a bit of schadenfreude about all of this, given the vigour with which the Conservatives have leapt on issues relating to Angela Rayner’s council home earlier than she was an MP.

She mentioned: “The Tories have been actually salivating over Angela Rayner’s 9-yr-in the past sale of a council home in her blended household… and there is no cause why she should not have to reply these questions.

“But once you put this into this context… it is a bit like, in a kind of outdated-college means, a Looney Tunes cartoon the place any individual units a extremely, actually, actually elaborate lure after which the anvil falls on their head.

“It does feel a little bit like the Tories have misstepped on this. And it was always so obvious that going after Angela Rayner in this way was always going to come and bite them in the arse.”

From the growing story round Mr Menzies, to the publicity blitz from Liz Truss over her new e-book Ten Tears To Save The West, there’s loads of dysfunction for us to chew over this week.

And spare a thought for Mr Sunak – having made progress on his smoking ban, and dealing arduous to de-escalate tensions within the Middle East, he is been laid low once more by political storms.

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