Boris Johnson finally admits ‘loophole’ protecting sex-pest MPs must be shut

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Boris Johnson has admitted that a "loophole" which saves MPs suspended for sexual misconduct from facing a recall petition should be closed.

The Prime Minister has been under pressure to act after MP Rob Roberts said he will "continue to serve" after he was suspended for six weeks for harassing an employee.

The Delyn MP, who sits as an independent after he had the Tory whip removed, repeatedly propositioned a member of staff and asked him to be "less alluring".

The current rules for complaints against MPs are dealt with by an independent panel.

Parliament and the Government are therefore effectively powerless to trigger the removal of Mr Roberts – or any other MPs accused of sex harassment – via a recall petition.

House of Commons leader Jacob Rees Mogg has hinted ministers are working on new measures.

It is not clear whether any new rules could apply to previous cases, however – meaning Mr Roberts could still be safe from recall.

MP Rob Roberts

Now, speaking to MPs on the Commons' Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister has said he will back a rules shake-up, saying: "There is clearly a loophole and I see no reason why it shouldn't be closed."

The Delyn MP sparked anger when he refused to stand down. He apologised for his behaviour and said he would "continue to serve" his constituency.

Senior Labour politicians, including party leader Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and Thangam Debbonaire, have proposed a rule change that would close this loophole and allow it to apply to previous cases.

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Ms Debbonaire, shadow leader of the House of Commons, will table a motion on the Labour plan.

She said: "If this rule had been in place, if that loophole had been closed, the people of that MP's constituency – in this case the people of Delyn – would have been able to mount a recall petition if they chose to decide for themselves if they want this person to continue being their MP."

Underlining the government's swift change of pub opening hours for the Euros, she added: "It's also possible to get legislation turned around really quickly when the government wants to.

"If they can do it for the football they can do it for sexual harassment of a member of parliamentary staff – that really, really matters."

"I think if the government is serious about standards in public life… they will allow time for the debate on my motion," she added.

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