Chris Pincher, a former Conservative MP, has announced his intention to resign from Parliament, necessitating a by-election in the once-secure seat of Tamworth in Staffordshire.
The former deputy chief whip said he wants to end the uncertainty for his constituents days after losing an appeal against an eight-week ban from parliament for groping two men at a private members’ club last summer.
This action officially kicks off the campaign for the third byelection, which is scheduled for this fall.
After the recent resignation of Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who had a majority of 24,000, Rishi Sunak now has the burden of defending the seat of Mid Bedfordshire. Meanwhile, the SNP is battling hard to keep Margaret Ferrier’s old center of Rutherglen and Hamilton West in Scotland.
One of the safest Tory seats in the nation is Tamworth, which Pincher won by a margin of over 20,000 votes in the previous general election. The Conservatives are still 20 points behind Labour nationwide, but even more significant majorities have been reversed in previous byelections.
The choice of candidate for the forthcoming Tamworth byelection presents an additional challenge for Conservative campaign headquarters.
Eddie Hughes, the current Conservative MP for Walsall North, a seat that would be effectively eliminated under planned boundary changes, was picked as the party’s Tamworth candidate for the next general election, but he has since announced that he would not be running in the subsequent by-election.
The Conservatives have not announced a date for the by-election; however, it will likely take place on the same day as the Mid Bedfordshire election (October 19). Bookies now favor Labour.
As a result of the local elections in May, the Conservatives in Tamworth Borough Council lost control of the council for the first time since 2004.
Tamworth local Huw Loxton, who was instrumental in last year’s demonstrations demanding Pincher’s resignation, said many residents would be happy the MP was leaving.
Since the charges against him appeared last July and were investigated, Pincher has avoided Westminster and maintained a low profile. According to his friends, his mental health had worsened significantly at that period.