Boris Johnson defends decision not to suspend Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape
Boris Johnson said a decision to remove the Tory whip from the MP will be taken once the police make a decision to charge him or not (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the decision not to suspend a Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape.
He said “we've got to wait for the police to decide whether they want to make charges” before a ruling is made on whether the senior member of his party keeps the whip.
Speaking for the first time about the matter since the allegations came to light on Saturday, Mr Johnson told reporters: "I think it's very, very important that we take all these cases extremely seriously and we will continue to do so.
"I think we've got to wait for the police to decide whether they want to make charges and take a decision on that basis."
It comes after the Conservatives came under fire for not taking action against the MP, who has not been named.
Labour's shadow safeguarding minister Jess Phillips said it sent a "terrible message" that powerful figures can secure "protection" with their Westminster status.
"While pending a police investigation for a sexual crime, I think it is only right that the whip is withdrawn," she said.
But Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who has been criticised for his actions surrounding the case, insisted he took the allegations “very seriously”.
The MP, a former minister in his 50s, was arrested the day after Scotland Yard received allegations of sexual offences and assault relating to four incidents at addresses in London, including in Westminster.
After being questioned, he was bailed until mid-August.
The PM was asked about the incident during a visit to a building site in Warrington to coincide with the publication of a series of planning reforms.
Mr Johnson insisted his Government will see more social housing built amid concerns it neglects the issue of affordable homes.
"What we're doing is simplifying the process so you actually get much more affordable housing,” he said.
"This solution gives them (builders) a much simpler infrastructure levy that enables them to go ahead and build a much bigger chunk of affordable housing and help people onto the property ladder.
"So I think it's going to have the reverse effect and enable us to build more homes for lots of different types of tenure, whether that's social rent, whether it's part-buy part-rent, all kinds of things that will help people onto the property ladder."