Rishi Sunak hasn’t said whether disgraced former Tory whip Chris Pincher should step down as an MP when challenged during a visit to Devon.
Mr. Pincher resigned as deputy whip chief on June 30 after allegedly groping two men at a private Tory club in London, and has since retired the conservative whip.
The incident, along with revelations of other allegations against Mr. Pincher of unwanted sexual advances, raised questions about Boris Johnson’s handling of the situation and his statements about what he knew of the previous allegations, which played a crucial role in the losing the Prime Minister’s support a significant number of his own MPs and eventually announcing that he would step down.
Speaking to reporters in Devon, Mr. Sunak was asked if Mr. Pincher should step down from his seat in the House of Commons to restore confidence.
Mr. Sunak said: “I think trust is really important and standards are really important in public life. I think honesty is important.
“And that’s why in this leadership campaign, even if it’s not easy for me, I want to be honest about some of the challenges we face and what will be needed to solve them.
“Now, in terms of restoring confidence in public life, I would like to quickly reconfirm an independent advisor to make sure ministers and the government are held accountable for their behavior.
“It is something that is important to me and I think the outside world must understand that it is important to the government. I will lead a government that does exactly that ”.
Earlier in the day, the former chancellor was questioned about allegations of being a “backstabber” on BBC Radio 4 Today, but said he would not comment specifically on “what others choose to say”.
Mr. Sunak added: “I will address the broader statement they refer to (the allegations), because I think there is a risk that people will look at the last few months of the government with slightly pink tinted glasses on what was really like. .
“Because it did not work as it should, and above all the Government found itself on the wrong side of a very serious ethical question, and, for me, it also took the wrong economic path, and that’s why in the end more than 60 MPs at the last count, I think , they resigned from the government, of which I, after many deliberations and months alongside the premier, was one of them “.
Asked earlier this month whether Mr. Pincher should remain an MP, a spokesperson for Mr. Sunak’s campaign said, “We have to let the independent investigation wrap up. It is right that Chris Pincher has had his whip removed and cannot participate in Parliament. “
In his letter of resignation as chancellor, Sunak said last month that “the public rightly expects government to be conducted fairly, competently and seriously,” adding, “I believe it is worth fighting for these standards and it is for this which I resign “.
He also pointed out that prior to a planned speech on economics, it was clear that his and Mr. Johnson’s approaches were “fundamentally too different”.