How many suspended MPs are still in the House of Commons? Full list, including Diane Abbott and Matt Hancock
From Jeremy Corbyn to Matt Hancock and Diane Abbott, these are the politicians who are currently sitting away from their political parties in Westminster
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After ‘Sleazegate’ hit the former PM’s administration in late 2021, with scandals including the Owen Paterson lobbying saga, our democratic representatives’ second jobs and ‘Wallpapergate’, UK politicians of all political persuasions have been under the microscope like no time since the expenses scandal more than a decade ago. Politicians have also been held accountable in light of the #MeToo movement, with several MPs having been suspended over ‘Pestminster’ claims of sexual misconduct.
At present, there are 15 MPs who have been suspended from their political parties but continue to sit in the House of Commons as independents. Another MP - Andrew Bridgen - has formed a parliamentary party for Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party having been expelled by the Conservatives in May. While the Parliamentary arithmetic since the 2019 General Election means the current tally has little bearing on government legislation, it means voters in 15 constituencies are not being represented by the parties they voted for.
The latest to join the ranks of suspended MPs is veteran Labour MP Geraint Davies, who has been accused of “incredibly serious” misconduct. Having been kicked out of his party while an investigation into his conduct takes place, Davies joins the likes of Matt Hancock, Jeremy Corbyn and Chris Pincher in sitting away from their parties in Commons debates.
So, which MPs have been suspended from their political parties in the House of Commons - and why have they found themselves in this position?
Which Conservative MPs are suspended?
At present, six MPs who were elected as Conservative representatives are suspended from the party. Here is a rundown of who they are and why they were suspended:
Scott Benton: Blackpool South
The latest addition to the list of suspended MPs, Scott Benton had the Conservative Party whip suspended on Wednesday (5 April) after being the subject of an undercover sting by The Times newspaper.
Benton was caught on camera offering to lobby ministers on behalf of gambling investors and leak a confidential policy document containing market sensitive information on the betting industry in exchange for money.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart said Benton had been suspended “whilst an investigation is ongoing” into his conduct. They said the MP has referred himself to Parliament’s standards commissioner.
In a statement, Benton said he had contacted the House of Commons authorities after his meeting with the undercover journalists as he was “concerned that what was being asked of me was not within parliamentary rules”. He added that he had had “no further contact” with the fake investment company The Times journalists were purporting to be from.
Matt Hancock: West Suffolk
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock had the Conservative whip suspended immediately after he announced he would be joining the cast of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! in autumn 2022.
Simon Hart, the Chief Whip, said at the time: “Following a conversation with Matt Hancock, I have considered the situation and believe this is a matter serious enough to warrant suspension of the whip with immediate effect.” Hancock defended his actions, saying in a letter to Rishi Sunak that he had gone on the show to seek “new ways to reach people”.
In the same letter, he revealed he had been told by Hart that he would have the whip restored “in due course” but that this was “now not necessary” as he had decided to step down as an MP at the next General Election, which is expected to take place in 2024.
Julian Knight: Solihull
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair had the Conservative whip suspended in December 2022 after allegations of “serious sexual assault” were made against him to the Met Police.
The police investigation was dropped at the beginning of April 2023 before being referred on to Essex Police, which is now investigating Knight. Chief Whip Simon Hart’s spokesperson said Knight would not be readmitted to the party as “further complaints” had been made against him. "These complaints, if appropriate, will be referred to the relevant police force, or appropriate bodies,” they added.
Knight said in December that he was “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever” and claimed the case against him was based on a “single, false and malicious allegation”. When the police dropped its investigation, but he did not have the whip restored, Knight claimed he was facing a "witch hunt" by the whips "in an attempt to prevent my naming names". He has since said he will stand down as an MP at the next General Election.
Chris Pincher: Tamworth
In a scandal that led to the downfall of Boris Johnson’s government, Chris Pincher was accused of sexually assaulting two guests at a London private members’ club in June 2022.
He resigned as Deputy Chief Whip on 30 June saying he had “drank far too much” and had “embarrassed” himself. He was suspended by his party a day later after a formal complaint was lodged with the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) - a body that investigates misconduct allegations about anyone who works on the parliamentary estate.
Since then, several other allegations of groping have been made against the Staffordshire MP, including one by the former Conservative leader of Tamworth Council. Pincher has denied all the claims against him. There has been no update on the progress of the investigation into his alleged misconduct.
Although he has not commented to the media since the allegations were made public, Pincher posted on Facebook that he has received “some very good medical and mental health support” and has “been doing casework along with my office team to try to ensure constituents get the help they need or get their issues addressed."
Rob Roberts: Delyn
The representative for the North Wales constituency was suspended from the Conservative Party after an independent panel in 2021 found he had sexually harassed a member of his parliamentary staff.
Roberts apologised for his “completely improper” behaviour, but insisted his actions were “romantic” rather than sexual. He had the Tory whip suspended in May 2021. While he continues to sit as an independent MP, he was controversially readmitted as a member of the Conservative Party in November 2021.
David Warburton: Somerton and Frome
The Somerset MP had the whip withdrawn in April 2022 after an investigation was launched into allegations of sexual harassment and drug use.
The Sunday Times published a picture of the Conservative sitting next to what appeared to be lines of cocaine. It also published the account of a woman who said she had been made uncomfortable by his advances. The ICGS is investigating the claims.
At the time, Warburton denied the allegations, saying: “I have enormous amounts of defence, but unfortunately the way that things work means that doesn’t come out first. I have heard nothing whatsoever from the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. I’m sorry, I can’t comment any further.”
Which Labour MPs have been suspended?
At present, seven MPs who were elected as Labour Party representatives are sitting as independents. Here is a rundown of who they are and why they were suspended or expelled:
Diane Abbott: Hackney North and Stoke Newington
The veteran Labour MP and former shadow Home Secretary was suspended on 23 April for comments made in a letter written for the Observer, which suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism “all their lives”.
She wrote: “They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable. It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. But they are not all their lives subject to racism.
“In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”
Abbott subsequently apologised for the comments and said she wished to “wholly and unreservedly withdraw my written remarks and disassociate myself from them”. The Labour Party immediately suspended the whip from the long-serving MP “pending an investigation”. A spokesperson said: “The Labour Party completely condemns these comments, which are deeply offensive and wrong.”
Sir Keir Starmer said Abbott’s comments were “antisemitic”, adding: “Diane Abbott has suffered a lot of racial abuse over many, many years – that doesn’t take away from the fact that I condemn the words she used and we must never accept the argument that there’s some sort of hierarchy of racism. I will never accept that, the Labour Party will never accept that, and that’s why we acted as swiftly as we did.”
Nick Brown: Newcastle Upon Tyne East
The long-serving Labour MP and former Labour Chief Whip was suspended by his party in September 2022 after an unspecified complaint was lodged against him.
In a statement, he said: “There has been a complaint made about me to the Labour party, which is under investigation. I am therefore under an administrative suspension from the Labour party until the investigation is concluded. I’m not aware of what the complaint is. I am cooperating fully with the investigation.”
Brown’s suspension came after Labour changed its independent complaints procedure. The party introduced the new process after being slammed by the equalities watchdog over its handling of antisemitism.
Jeremy Corbyn: Islington North
Keir Starmer’s predecessor as Labour leader has been sitting as an independent since October 2020. The Labour Party suspended Corbyn for comments he made after the publication of a report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which found “serious failings” on antisemitism under his leadership.
Corbyn said antisemitism was "absolutely abhorrent" and "one antisemite is one too many" in the party. But he added: "The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."
After doubling down on this statement, Labour immediately released a statement that said: "In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation." Corbyn reacted by saying he would “strongly contest” what he viewed as a “political intervention”.
Labour has since barred its former leader from standing as one of its MPs at the next General Election, although Corbyn has suggested he will stand in his Islington North constituency as an independent. Although he is not part of the parliamentary party, he remains a Labour Party member.
The veteran Swansea West MP, 63, has been in the Commons for 21 years (over two stints). He was suspended by Labour on Thursday (1 June) after the Politico news site reported he had been accused of “incredibly serious” inappropriate behaviour. Most of the claims, which have not been verified by NationalWorld, relate to his conduct on the parliamentary estate.
While the MP, who previously represented Croydon Central between 1997 and 2005, has said he does not recognise the allegations, he added that he was “naturally sorry” if his behaviour had “inadvertently caused offence”.
A Labour spokesperson said: “These are incredibly serious allegations of completely unacceptable behaviour. We strongly encourage anyone with a complaint to come forward to the Labour Party’s investigation. Any complainant will have access to an independent support service who provide confidential and independent guidance and advice from external experts throughout the process.”
Conor McGinn: St Helens North
The former shadow frontbencher was suspended from the Labour Party in December 2022 after a formal complaint was made against him. Specific details about what the complaint relates to have not been released, and Labour has said it does not comment on individual cases.
In a statement released at the time, McGinn said: “The Labour party has informed me that it is automatically required to apply a temporary procedural suspension while a complaint is investigated. I have not been told the details of the complaint but I am confident that it is entirely unfounded. I strongly reject any suggestion of wrongdoing and I look forward to the matter being resolved quickly.”
Christina Rees: Neath
Rees, the former shadow Welsh Secretary, was suspended by Labour in October 2022 over allegations she had bullied her constituency staff. Labour has not publicly commented about the case but an investigation is reportedly ongoing.
In a statement, Rees said: “There has been a complaint made against me to the Labour party, which is under investigation and I am therefore under an administrative suspension until the process is concluded. I’m not aware of the details of the complaint but I am fully cooperating with the investigation.”
Claudia Webbe: Leicester East
Claudia Webbe was expelled from the Labour Party after being convicted of harassment in October 2021.
The MP made 16 threatening calls over two years to a woman who was a long-term friend of her partner. She received a suspended sentence the following month. Labour expelled Webbe and called for her to step down as an MP. However, the Leicester East politician has insisted she is innocent and has not resigned her seat.
Which other MPs are suspended from their parties?
At present, two MPs from other parties represented in the House of Commons have had their whips suspended. Here is a rundown of who they are and why they have been suspended:
Margaret Ferrier: Rutherglen and Hamilton West (SNP)
The MP was suspended by the SNP for breaking Covid rules during the pandemic. Despite suffering from Covid symptoms and taking a test in September 2020, she went to social occasions, travelled down to London by train and took part in a House of Commons debate over the next three days.
Rather than self-isolating when her test came back positive, she travelled back to Scotland by train. In September 2022, she was sentenced to 270 hours of community service after admitting she had breached Covid rules.
A separate investigation led by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Daniel Greenberg has since recommended Ferrier be suspended from Parliament for 30 days for breaching the MPs code of conduct and damaging the “reputation and integrity” of the House of Commons.
Ferrier admitted her actions had breached the rules on the reputation of the House, but denied the other breach, telling Greenberg: “Whilst I made an error in judgement, I do not believe that I placed my personal interest above the public interest during the period in question.
“However, I did make a series of poor decisions that flowed from my original error which compounded the situation.” She added: “there was not a moment where I was consciously aware of a conflict between personal and public interest and made a decision to prioritise my own”.
Jonathan Edwards: Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Plaid Cymru)
Edwards was suspended by Plaid Cymru in May 2020 after being arrested by the police for assaulting his wife. The MP received a police caution for the incident in June 2020.
In a statement, the politician said he was "deeply sorry" and it was "the biggest regret" of his life. He added: “I complied fully with the police and acted with the best interests of my wife and children as my primary motive throughout.
“My priority now is to work with my wife to ensure as stable a future as possible for our family.” His wife also released a statement, saying she had "accepted her husband’s apology".
While he was allowed to rejoin the party’s membership in 2022, he remains as an independent MP.