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Tories At Risk Of By-Election With MP Facing Commons Ban Over Lobbying

The House of Commons standards watchdog has recommended a 35 day suspension for Blackpool South MP Scott Benton. (Alamy)

2 min read

The committee on standards has recommended a 35 day parliamentary suspension for Blackpool South MP Scott Benton following an "extremely serious" breach of lobbying rules, putting the Tories at risk of another by-election.

Benton was suspended from the Conservative party after reporters at The Times reported earlier this year revealed the MP offering to leak confidential information and lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry.  

The MP was accused of boasting of "easy access to ministers”, that he could "call in favours" from colleagues, and that could guarantee he was able to leak a planned white paper on gambling reforms. 

If MPs in the House of Commons approve the committee's recommendation it could trigger a byelection in Benton's constituency – where the MP has a small, 3,690 majority, posing yet another political headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Standards Committee report described Benton's breach of the rules as "extremely serious" which "significantly exceeded" the high bar for breaching the rules. 

"In our view Mr Benton breached Paragraph 11 of the Rules and it was an extremely serious breach," the report read. 

"The message he gave to his interlocutors at the 7 March meeting was that he was corrupt and 'for sale', and that so were many other Members of the House. 

"He communicated a toxic message about standards in Parliament. We condemn Mr Benton for his comments which unjustifiably tarnish the reputation of all MPs.

"This makes it all the more important that Parliament deals decisively with cases like the present one where a Member shows themselves to be unworthy of the position they hold in public life."

Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow Leader of the House of Commons, described the report's findings a "damning". 

“This is not an isolated case, but comes off the back of a wave of Tory sleaze and scandal," siad Powell.

“In Chris Webb Blackpool South has an opportunity to elect its first ever Blackpool born MP, they deserve an MP they can be proud of, and a fresh start.

“Labour will restore standards in public life, drumming the value of service into our politics and overseeing a total crackdown on cronyism.”

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