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Rishi Sunak says Parliament could re-examine rules on betting for politicians

28 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak making a speech at an event at Petyt Hall, London, while on the General Election campaign trail. Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has suggested Parliament can re-examine the rules on betting for politicians should it wish to do so.

The Prime Minister said gambling on political matters is “not something I would do”, adding the rules governing the behaviour of MPs is something that Parliament “always has the opportunity to look at in the future”.

Mr Sunak also said he would “boot anyone out” of the Conservative Party who is found to have broken the rules as he faced fresh questions on the scandal.

At least five Conservatives are being investigated by the Gambling Commission as part of its inquiry into allegations of bets on the timing of the General Election on July 4.

The Metropolitan Police has said at least seven of its officers are being investigated over bets on the timing of the national poll.

Separately, other election candidates have been accused of gambling on the contest – including betting on themselves to lose in their prospective constituencies.

‘Kicked out’

Mr Sunak, on whether politicians should be allowed to bet on their own elections, told broadcasters: “I think the Gambling Commission is the body that is rightly placed to investigate any wrongdoing, I’ve been crystal clear that they should do that and they should make sure that anyone who has broken any rules should face the full consequences of the law, I will ensure they’re kicked out of the Conservative Party.

“In parallel with that, we’ve conducted our own internal inquiries when we’ve been made aware of things and taken action to suspend two candidates.”

Mr Sunak said “we have a set of rules that govern gambling” before adding on betting by politicians: “It’s not something I would do, the rules that govern MPs’ conduct and behaviour is something that Parliament decides and committees decide, and clearly that’s something Parliament always has the opportunity to look at in the future.

“But right now the priority should be the Gambling Commission ensuring that no-one has broken the rules. If anyone has broken the rules and cheated, they should face the full consequences of the law.

“We’ve made sure that we’ve taken action and suspended candidates, and I will boot anyone out of the Conservative Party who is found to have broken those rules.”

Former aide

Those Conservatives known to have been caught up in the Gambling Commission inquiry include Mr Sunak’s former parliamentary aide, Craig Williams.

The Prime Minister withdrew Tory support for Mr Williams in his bid to be returned to the Commons as MP for the Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr seat, after he admitted having a “flutter” on the election date.

The party has also withdrawn support from Bristol North West candidate Laura Saunders whose husband, Tony Lee, the Conservative Party’s director of campaigning, has taken a leave of absence, as has Tory chief data officer Nick Mason.

Senedd member Russell George stepped back from the shadow cabinet in the Welsh Parliament after being placed under investigation.

Chief of staff

Elsewhere, the BBC reported the Gambling Commission has spoken to Mr Sunak’s chief of staff as a witness in connection with bets allegedly placed on the election date.

The BBC said Liam Booth-Smith was interviewed by the regulator last week to clarify who may have known about the date of the election before it was announced.

The Gambling Commission investigation is focused on allegations of cheating, while Scotland Yard will lead on what is likely to be a much smaller number of cases where there could be additional offences such as misconduct in public office.

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