Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 5 News List

UK Conservatives suspend lawmaker over allegations

Reuters, LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has suspended a lawmaker over what it said were serious allegations, a step that could undermine the authority of her minority government as Britain seeks to iron out a Brexit deal with the EU.

May’s Conservative Party refused to give any detail about the nature of the allegations against Charlie Elphicke, a Conservative lawmaker for Dover, but said it had referred the matter to the police.

Elphicke, formerly a tax lawyer who was first elected in 2010, denied any wrongdoing.

“The party tipped off the press before telling me of my suspension,” he said on Twitter. “I am not aware of what the alleged claims are and deny any wrongdoing.”

May’s office did not respond to calls about the allegations, whose nature was unclear. E-mail enquiries went unanswered. The Conservatives declined to comment.

May’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party are grappling with a slew of sexual harassment and abuse claims — many of them unsubstantiated — against British politicians.

The allegations have surfaced since the sexual abuse claims against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein prompted women and men in British politics to share stories about alleged improper behavior.

One of May’s most loyal ministers, Michael Fallon, resigned as defence secretary on Wednesday. Fallon, who had admitted touching a radio presenter’s knee in 2002, said his past conduct had fallen below the required standard. He gave no details.

Separately on Saturday, a lawmaker from the Scottish National Party resigned from his Cabinet post in the devolved Edinburgh administration after apologizing for what he described as “inappropriate” actions.

“Where I have believed myself to have been merely humorous or attempting to be friendly, my behavior might have made others uncomfortable or led them to question my intentions,” Mark McDonald, who represents Aberdeen Donside and was minister for childcare, said in a statement.

He is expected to remain a lawmaker in the Scottish parliament.

May on Friday set out the code of conduct for her party detailing standards and procedures expected of elected and appointed party members.

She lost her party’s majority in parliament with a botched bet on a snap election in June, so now has to rely on a small Northern Irish party to ensure she can pass legislation.

Two other British ministers are under investigation for allegations of impropriety, while Labour is also investigating the behavior of a number of its lawmakers.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Emily Thornberry, told the BBC: “Some of the things that I have heard in the last week have been so disgusting and I am ashamed that this could happen in the Labour Party.”

Additional reporting by AFP

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