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Sunak denies ‘failure of leadership’ after Wragg ‘voluntarily’ gave up Tory whip

10 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Screen grab from Parliament TV of William Wragg.

Rishi Sunak has denied displaying a “failure of leadership” after an MP was left to “voluntarily” relinquish the Conservative whip for sharing colleagues’ personal phone numbers with a suspected scammer.

The Prime Minister was challenged on his response to revelations that William Wragg had been targeted in a so-called “honeytrap” scandal after resisting calls to take action over the former Tory’s behaviour.

The MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester last week admitted giving his colleagues’ numbers to someone on a dating app because he feared intimate images of himself would be leaked after he got caught up in a parliamentary sexting scam.

He resigned from his roles leading the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and as vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, and chose to surrender the Conservative whip in the wake of the scandal.

‘Sack himself’

Mr Sunak was asked by a caller during a phone-in on LBC on Wednesday whether he had shown a “complete lack and failure of leadership” by allowing Mr Wragg to “sack himself”.

The Prime Minister replied: “No, well… As you know, that particular incident is being looked at by two different police forces at the moment so there’s a limit to what I can say specifically about that.”

He added: “There are wider things happening and he (Mr Wragg) rightly apologised for what happened, and it’s a good reminder to everyone, but particularly people in public life, to obviously be careful about unsolicited messages they get.

“There’s lots of bad actors, as we’re seeing around the world, who are trying to cause damage to our democratic processes.”

Asked why he had waited for Mr Wragg to voluntarily give up the Tory whip rather than removing it, Mr Sunak said: “There’s a police investigation that’s happening. It’s important that we work through these things in due time.

“The important thing here is that we let the police investigations run their course.”


Pressed on critics branding the response a sign of weakness, Mr Sunak said: “People can judge me if they want to judge me on that, that’s fine, I accept that.”

The Prime Minister sought to turn the focus on to Angela Rayner by hitting out at the controversy that has dogged Labour in recent weeks over the deputy leader’s tax affairs.

“When it comes to weakness, I know Keir Starmer still hasn’t answered any questions properly about what’s going on with Angela Rayner,” he said.

“When it comes to me and my affairs, people are very happy to ask lots of questions, including Angela Rayner herself.”

Ms Rayner has faced repeated questions from the Tories over whether she should have paid capital gains tax on the 2015 sale of her home due to confusion over whether it was her principal residence.

She has said she received professional advice which was “categoric that I do not owe any capital gains tax on that”, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the Conservatives are “chasing a smear” over the story.

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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Clearly Wragg has mental health issues and should be treated with some compassion. He has apologised and resigned so maybe its now best to let the subject rest.

1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

It is not as simple as you suggest. The people behind this could well be state sponsored organisations that intend to recruit through black mail, senior politicians so that they can influence decisions relating to our relations with other countries, the sale of high tech firms to other states or our defence policies. This senior MP has forwarded details of a number of well placed individuals who could also be pressured into make inappropriate decisions if they have secrets to hide. It is worth remembering that only last week the Austrian government announced that senior officials in their country have… Read more »

1 month ago

Cons have a habit of protecting people. The security risk here would have most non MP people security clearances scrubbed or refused faster than they could blink. Johnson would never had got clearance as an individual. But here we have Sunaks principles once again ignored (has he any?) Just to remind you he said Integrity, Professionalism and Accountability at the heart of government. So leave the fellow in post.

But Angela Rayner, grrrr. (how much was the tax man into Zahawi for? So, Michele Mone eh? So Lord Ashcroft eh? Eh? Ashcroft wrote the book attacking AR well I never)

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