Tory MP Scott Benton quits, triggering new byelection headache for Sunak

by 24britishtvMarch 25, 2024, 6:01 p.m. 21
-

Rishi Sunak is to face another tricky byelection in the coming weeks after the former Conservative backbencher Scott Benton quit parliament before the conclusion of a recall petition among his constituents.

The Blackpool South MP was facing likely ejection from the Commons after he was suspended for 35 days over his role in a lobbying scandal, triggering a process whereby local people could force a byelection if at least 10% of registered voters signed the petition.

In a statement posted to his website, Benton said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have written to the chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP.

“I’d like to thank the hundreds of residents who have sent supportive messages, cards and letters over the last few months and who have urged me to continue and fight the next election.”

He added: “A Labour government would be catastrophic for our country. I’m mindful of giving a new candidate the time and space to campaign to prevent that from happening and it is for this reason that I have made this decision at this time.”

As MPs cannot straightforwardly resign, they instead have to write to the chancellor of the exchequer, asking to be appointed to the Treasury-led position of Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, which disqualifies them from the Commons.

Benton took his seat from Labour in the 2019 election with a majority of just under 3,700, and Labour will be seen as firm favourites to take it back in a byelection.

Benton lost the Tory whip in April 2023 after suggesting to undercover reporters at the Times that he would be willing to break lobbying rules for money. The MP had offered to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry and leak a confidential policy document for up to £4,000 a month.

A subsequent investigation by parliament’s standards committee found he had committed a “very serious breach” of the rules and recommended a 35-day suspension from the Commons.

Benton denied wrongdoing and appealed against the suspension to the independent expert panel (IEP), the body that sits above the standards committee, on the grounds that the procedure was flawed, claiming the decision was leaked by the committee. But he lost the appeal last month, beginning the recall process.

Benton did not immediately explain the reason for his resignation. However, triggering a byelection now is likely to mean it can take place on 2 May, the same day as local elections across England.

-

Related Articles

HOT TRENDS

FA Cup replays scrapped from first round onwards

by 24britishtvApril 18, 2024, 4 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Rik Mayall Comedy Festival Planned

by 24britishtvApril 18, 2024, 9 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Ukraine warns of WW3 ahead of long-stalled Congress aid vote

by 24britishtvApril 18, 2024, 4 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

by 24britishtvApril 17, 2024, 11 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Andy Murray on French Open entry list but Emma Raducanu not in the draw

by 24britishtvApril 17, 2024, 10 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

'Put fear' - Davis praises Saints starlet after first Eastleigh start

by 24britishtvApril 17, 2024, 8 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Shannon Matthews: Man behind kidnapping plot dies

by 24britishtvApril 17, 2024, 8 p.m.2