England

Anger as accused MPs get whip restored for May vote

Charlie Elphicke (L) and Andrew Griffiths (R) Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Both MPs were able to vote after having the whip restored

A decision to let two suspended Conservative MPs take part in a vote of confidence in Theresa May has been criticised by Labour MPs.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths and Dover's Charlie Elphicke had the whip restored but both face claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour which they deny.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said it showed votes were "all that mattered".

In response, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom defended the move and said she was determined to keep staff safe.

"I am absolutely committed to changing the culture of this place and to seeing that everybody here is treated with dignity and respect," she said.

The move prompted fury from female Labour MPs including shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler and Jess Phillips.

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Media captionJess Phillips reads out Andrew Griffiths 'beating' text to MPs

Describing it as "a betrayal of women", Ms Butler said: "How can Theresa May call herself a feminist when she lets an MP who was suspended back into the Conservative Party to vote for her in the leadership challenge?"

Ms Phillips said: "They said we won't let patronage and power change our minds where wrongdoing occurred. They said we won't protect our mates."

Mr Elphicke said he was pleased to have the whip restored but declined to say which way he voted.

Burton and Uttoxeter MP Mr Griffiths said he was backing the Prime Minister.

On Twitter, Mr Elphicke wrote: "Important for my constituents to know that, 13 months after having it withdrawn, I have been given back the Conservative whip.

"I remain as confident as I always have been of clearing my name and will continue to work as hard for Dover & Deal as I always have done."

A Conservative Party official said: "The restoration of the whip had been under consideration for some time and the Chief Whip decided that in the circumstances of a leadership confidence ballot, it was right they have the whip restored to be able to vote in that."

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