Tory MP who sent ‘unacceptable’ texts faces suspension from parliament
A Tory MP who sent “unacceptable” texts to a young intern faces being suspended from the House of Commons.
Rob Roberts, the MP for Delyn, who sent messages to a 21-year-old intern, inviting her to “fool around”, has been subject to a probe by a parliamentary watchdog, which has now been concluded.
The Mail on Sunday is reporting that the standards commissioner has proposed that Roberts be suspended, and that he is appealing against the decision. The move could eventually lead to a by-election in his constituency.
The Tory MP beat Labour’s David Hanson at the 2019 General election by 865 votes in the hyper-marginal so called ‘Red Wall’ seat.
The Mail also suggested that sources within the Conservative Party believe the appeal will fail because he has already apologised for his conduct after complaints of sexual harassment.
If the appeal fails it will be voted on by follow MPs, who will decide whether to confirm it or not.
If the suspension is for longer than 10 sitting days it could open a window for a Recall Petition, which could trigger a by-election.
Once a petition is open it is available for signing by constituents for six weeks. For a recall petition to be successful at least 10% of eligible registered voters need to sign it, and of the required number is not reached the petition fails and the MP remains in post.
However, if the 10% threshold is reached the petition officer informs the Speaker of the House of Commons that it has been successful, at which point the seat becomes vacant. A by-election is then triggered and the recalled MP is allowed to stand as a candidate.
The Conservative Party has also conducted on investigation into the the MP’s behaviour. It refused to suspend Roberts, but the spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said that the conduct was “unacceptable” and that the has been “rebuked”.
The spokesperson added: “He has apologised for his behaviour and was instructed to undertake safeguarding and social media protection training.
“It’s something the party takes incredibly seriously and has dealt with accordingly.”