Christopher Pincher
Official portrait of Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Government Deputy Chief Whip
Treasurer of the Household
In office
8 February 2022 – 30 June 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byStuart Andrew
Succeeded byKelly Tolhurst
In office
9 January 2018 – 25 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byEsther McVey
Succeeded byAmanda Milling
Minister of State for Housing
In office
13 February 2020 – 8 February 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byEsther McVey
Succeeded byStuart Andrew
Minister of State for Europe and the Americas
In office
25 July 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAlan Duncan
Succeeded byWendy Morton
Comptroller of the Household
In office
15 June 2017 – 5 November 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byMel Stride
Succeeded byChristopher Heaton-Harris
Member of Parliament
for Tamworth
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byBrian Jenkins
Majority19,634 (42.6%)
Personal details
Born (1969-09-24) 24 September 1969 (age 52)
Walsall, Staffordshire, England
Political partyConservative Party (Whip removed June 2022)
Alma materLondon School of Economics
OccupationIT consultant

Christopher John Pincher PC[1] (born 24 September 1969)[2] is a British politician who served as Government Deputy Chief Whip, and Treasurer of the Household from 2018 to 2019 and from February to June 2022. He previously served in the Johnson government as Minister of State for Europe and the Americas and Minister of State for Housing and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamworth since 2010.

Pincher was first elected as MP for Tamworth at the 2010 general election, when he gained the seat from the Labour Party.[3] He first contested the seat in 2005.[4] He served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond from 2015 to 2016.[5]

Pincher served as an Assistant Whip and Comptroller of the Household in 2017, before he resigned after being implicated in the 2017 Westminster sexual misconduct allegations, having been accused of sexual misconduct by Tom Blenkinsop and Alex Story. Two months later, in January 2018, he was appointed by Theresa May as Government Deputy Chief Whip and Treasurer of the Household. After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, Pincher was appointed Minister of State for Europe and the Americas. In the February 2020 reshuffle, he was appointed Minister of State for Housing. In February 2022, he returned to his former role of Government Deputy Chief Whip and Treasurer of the Household, but resigned in June of that year, saying he had "[drunk] far too much [and] embarrassed myself and other people", and was subsequently suspended by the Conservative party, after allegations he had groped two men in the private Carlton Club, while drunk.[6] After the suspension he announced that he was seeking medical support.[7]

Early life

Pincher was born in Walsall,[8] and grew up in Wombourne, Staffordshire. He has been a member of the Conservative Party since 1987,[9] having been politicised by the 1984–85 miners' strike.[10] He was deputy director of the Conservative Collegiate Forum, followed by chairman of Islington North Constituency Association.[10] He was tipped as a future cabinet member ahead of the 1997 general election,[10] in which he ran for Parliament for the newly created safe Labour seat of Warley, in Sandwell;[9] he came second, with 24% of the vote.[11]

Pincher was a member of Iain Duncan Smith's successful campaign for the party leadership in 2001.[12] He failed to be elected in 2005 when he first stood for Tamworth, gaining a 2.8% swing from Labour. Although Brian Jenkins retained the seat, Pincher said he had won the arguments, after campaigning for more police and school discipline.[8]

While a candidate, he campaigned against the decision to close Queen Elizabeth's Mercian School,[13] which had been earmarked for closure under Building Schools for the Future, and called the 2009 decision to keep the school open a "victory for people power".[14] He also successfully put pressure on Persimmon to resume and complete construction of the half-built Tame Alloys Estate in Wilnecote.[15] In 2008, Pincher called for efforts to improve visibility at the site of an accident blackspot in Hopwas.[16]

Member of Parliament

Pincher was re-selected to contest Tamworth for the 2010 election, gaining the seat on a 9.5% swing: taking him to 45.8% of the vote and a majority of 6,090 or 13.1%, over Brian Jenkins.[3] In his first ten months as an MP, Pincher had the second-highest House of Commons attendance rate of the West Midlands' 57 MPs, after James Morris.[17] In his first year, he spoke in 94 debates: top amongst Staffordshire's eleven MPs.[18]

Pincher voted in favour of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which legalised same-sex marriage.[19]

Pincher campaigned against the building of High Speed 2,[20] which is planned to run past the outskirts of Tamworth.[21] He has defended residents from accusations they were "Nimbies" and has called the HS2 business case 'significantly flawed'.[22] In December 2010, he said any route via Mile Oak or Hopwas was "just not acceptable".[23] Soon after, the route via Hopwas Ridge was rejected: a move welcomed by Pincher and campaigners.[24]

He endorsed closer links with Latvia after meeting Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis in January 2011.[25] He has since met with the Latvian ambassador with a view to setting up an all-party parliamentary group for Latvia. He opposed moving the clocks permanently forward an hour to Central European Time.[26]

In 2011, he was a member of the special Select Committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[27]

He lobbied in Parliament for the Olympic Torch to pass through Tamworth during the 2012 torch relay.[28]

In 2013, he organised a campaign to get local people to knit "beanie hats" for soldiers of the 3rd Battalion (The Stafford's) of the Mercian Regiment, for their pending deployment to Afghanistan.[29] In the same year he helped organise the Tamworth Support our Soldiers (TamworthSOS) campaign,[30] which saw welfare boxes sent to the soldiers in time for Christmas 2014.

In the 2015 General Election, Pincher was re-elected with an increased majority of 11,302, polling 23,606 votes, 50.04% of the votes cast and a further 4.3% swing from Labour.[31]

Pincher rejoined the British government in January 2018 as Treasurer of the Household.[32] He was appointed to the Privy Council in November 2018.[33] Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Pincher to the position of Minister of State for Europe and the Americas in July 2019. During the 2020 British cabinet reshuffle, Pincher was appointed to succeed Esther McVey as the Minister of State for Housing.

On 8 February 2022, during Johnson's cabinet reshuffle, Pincher was moved back to his former role as Government Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Commons. He was succeeded as Minister of State for Housing by Stuart Andrew.[34]

Sexual misconduct allegations

On 5 November 2017, Pincher resigned as Comptroller of the Household (Assistant Whip) and voluntarily referred himself to the Conservative Party's complaints procedure and the police, as part of the 2017 Westminster sexual misconduct allegations. He was accused of sexual assault by former Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop, and former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story made allegations that Pincher had made unwanted sexual advances towards him.[35] Story alleged that Pincher, nine years before he was an MP, had made an unwanted pass at him, describing him as a "pound shop Harvey Weinstein". Story said that he had been invited back to Pincher's flat, where Pincher massaged his neck and talked about his "future in the Conservative party", before changing into a bathrobe.[36] Pincher said that "I do not recognise either the events or the interpretation placed on them" and that "if Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him".[36] Pincher was also accused of "touching up" Tom Blenkinsop, who told him to "f*** off".[35] On 23 December 2017, the Conservative Party's investigating panel determined that Pincher had not breached the code of conduct.[37]

Pincher resigned as a Government Deputy Chief Whip on 30 June 2022, after he admitted being very drunk the night before at the private Carlton Club, the Conservative Party members' club, in St James's, London and having "embarrassed myself and other people".[38] It was alleged that he had groped two men. Labour's Angela Rayner said that "the latest episode" showed that standards in public life had dropped under Boris Johnson. Rayner maintained Johnson should explain why Pincher was made a parliamentary whip and how he could stay a Conservative MP. There were calls, from unnamed Conservative MPs, for a by-election to be held in Pincher's seat,[a] as the events were considered "much worse" than when the former Conservative MP Neil Parish was caught watching pornography in the House of Commons earlier in the year.[39][40] Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the full truth was needed about events and allegations, asking for the whip to be withdrawn from Pincher as a start, and saying that standards in public life were involved.[41] Liberal Democrat Wendy Chamberlain said the allegations were so serious it was hard to see how Pincher could stay an MP. She called for a thorough investigation and for Pincher to lose the Conservative whip.[42] He was suspended as a Conservative MP[43] but will stay in parliament as an independent.[44][45] Angela Rayner said Johnson had been "dragged kicking and screaming into taking any action at all."[46]

In a letter to Conservative Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris, select committee chairs Karen Bradley and Caroline Nokes said the Conservative Party needed to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to such allegations and carry out a "thorough investigation... in each and every case" adding, "The party and, by extension, the government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach."[47]

On 3 July 2022 six new allegations against Pincher emerged, involving behaviour over a decade. Three complaints are that Pincher made unwanted advances against other male MPs, one in a bar at the House of Commons and one in Pincher's parliamentary office. One complainant reportedly gave Downing Street details in February and expressed concerns over Pincher becoming a whip in charge of other MP's welfare. Pincher maintained he had no intention of resigning as an MP.[48]

Johnson allegedly referred to Pincher as "handsy" and Dominic Cummings said Johnson joked about him being "Pincher by name, pincher by nature" in 2020. There are calls for Johnson to explain how much he knew about Pincher's behaviour. Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds said: "I think we've got to acknowledge what the consistent problem is and it is a Conservative party that repeatedly chooses to do what is politically expedient over what is right. It's clear from what we know this morning that Chris Pincher should never have been put back into the whips' office."[49][50]

Personal life

Outside politics, Pincher is a member of the Peel Society (a Tamworth-based society to promote interest in the life and times of Conservative politician Robert Peel),[51] and is a patron of the Canwell Show. He also writes for The Critic magazine on drink and is a member of the Travellers Club in London.[52][53]

Styles

Notes

  1. ^ This could only happen if Pincher chose to resign as an MP, was subject to a successful recall petition, or received a custodial sentence of longer than a year

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Who's Who". www.ukwhoswho.com.
  2. ^ "Christopher Pincher MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 12 September 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Labour MP of 14 years loses seat to Tories in Tamworth". Birmingham Post. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Election 2005: Tamworth". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 November 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Christopher Pincher | About Chris | Bio". www.christopherpincher.com. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2018.[better source needed]
  6. ^ "Tory MP Chris Pincher suspended by party over 'drunken groping' claims". Sky News. 2 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Chris Pincher MP seeking medical support after groping claim". BBC News. 2 July 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Mitchell proud of 'stonking' Sutton result". Birmingham Post. 7 May 2005. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Christopher Pincher". Parliament. Archived from the original on 1 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Castle, Stephen; Birnberg, Ariadne (9 February 1997). "The Cabinet of Tomorrow?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  12. ^ Pierce, Andrew (18 December 2002). "IDS team switches to Page". The Times. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  13. ^ Richards, Andy (7 January 2009). "Parents fight to save Tamworth school from closure". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  14. ^ Halifax, Justine (30 January 2009). "Tamworth people power saves QEMS from closure". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Work to resume on Tamworth estate". Birmingham Mail. 30 July 2009. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  16. ^ Halifax, Justine (29 December 2008). "Fresh calls to improve Tamworth blackspot where paperboy died". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  17. ^ Goldby, Ben (6 March 2011). "The West Midland MPs missing more than half of Westminster votes". Sunday Mercury. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  18. ^ "Town MP reflects on memorable if rather nervous first year". Tamworth Herald. 3 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  19. ^ "MP-by-MP: Gay marriage vote". BBC News. 5 February 2013.
  20. ^ Walker, Jonathan (1 December 2010). "Conservative MP voices concerns over high-speed rail plans". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  21. ^ "Joy for Midland high-speed rail link protesters". Birmingham Mail. 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  22. ^ "MP defends villagers' fears over rail plans". Tamworth Herald. 8 April 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Campaigners form super group to fight HS2 rail plans". Tamworth Herald. 3 December 2010. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  24. ^ Halifax, Justine (7 December 2010). "High Speed rail campaigners celebrate after changes made to route in Staffordshire". Birmingham Post. Archived from the original on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  25. ^ Lloyd, Matt (27 January 2011). "Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher urges trade links with Latvia". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  26. ^ "'No evidence for clocks change': MP Christopher Pincher". BBC News. 27 February 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  27. ^ "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  28. ^ "Olympic torch hope blazes in Tamworth". Tamworth Herald. 10 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  29. ^ "The Staffordshire Regiment Museum". staffordshireregimentmuseum.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Tamworth business backs Support Our Soldiers appeal". 8 July 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2016.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Christopher Pincher MP". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ a b "Knighthood conferred and Privy Council Appointments: November 2018". 23 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  34. ^ "Rees-Mogg becomes minister for Brexit opportunities in Boris Johnson reshuffle". The Guardian. 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  35. ^ a b "Conservative Whip refers himself to police over behaviour claims". The Independent. 5 November 2017. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Tory Whip Chris Pincher refers himself to the police after claim of unwanted pass at former Olympic rower". The Daily Telegraph. 5 November 2017. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  37. ^ Buchan, Lizzy (23 December 2017). "Tory MPs Stephen Crabb and Chris Pincher cleared by party over sexual harassment claims". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 December 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  38. ^ "Chris Pincher suspended as Tory MP after groping allegation". BBC News. 1 July 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  39. ^ Elgot, Jessica (30 June 2022). "Tory deputy chief whip resigns after 'embarrassing myself and others'". The Guardian.
  40. ^ "Chris Pincher: Tory whip resigns saying he 'embarrassed himself'". BBC News. 1 July 2022.
  41. ^ Tories pressed to withdraw whip from Chris Pincher after misconduct claims The Guardian. 1 July 2022
  42. ^ Chris Pincher: Call to suspend Tory MP after groping allegations BBC News. 1 July 2022
  43. ^ "Chris Pincher suspended as Tory MP after groping allegation". BBC News. 1 July 2022.
  44. ^ Rentoul, John (1 July 2022). "Boris Johnson bows to the inevitable, too late, and makes it worse". The Independent.
  45. ^ "What does removing the whip mean? All you need to know about punishment for MPs". The Independent. 1 July 2022.
  46. ^ Chris Pincher loses Tory whip over misconduct allegations The Guardian. 1 July 2022
  47. ^ "Senior Female Tory MPs Call For Chris Pincher To Lose Party Whip". HuffPost UK. 1 July 2022.
  48. ^ Snowdon, Kathryn; Seddon, Paul (3 July 2022). "Chris Pincher: New claims emerge against former Tory MP". Retrieved 3 July 2022 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  49. ^ Blewett, Sam; Baynes, Chris (2 July 2022). "Boris Johnson accused of turning blind eye to Chris Pincher allegations". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  50. ^ "Boris Johnson accused of ignoring warnings about Chris Pincher amid new allegations". the Guardian. 3 July 2022. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  51. ^ "Pincher, Christopher". Mace Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  52. ^ "Christopher Pincher". thecritic.co.uk. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  53. ^ "About Chris". Christopher Pincher.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byBrian Jenkins Member of Parliament for Tamworth 2010–present Incumbent