Farage: Conservatives Facing ‘Biggest Electoral Cataclysm’ Since 1997 if Boris Stays

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: MEP and former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage speaks at the 'Leave Means Rally' at the Bournemouth International Centre on October 15, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. Leave Means Leave is a pro-Brexit campaign, holding a series of rallies and events across …
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The Conservative government of Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson is facing the “biggest electoral cataclysm” since 1997, Brexit leader Nigel Farage has warned amid the growing scandal surrounding former deputy whip Chris Pincher.

With the Prime Minister and other figures in the government facing accusations of lying to the public over whether they were made aware of sexually inappropriate behaviour on the part of former-Conservative MP Christopher Pincher, veteran political campaigner Nigel Farage predicted that the government is facing a similar downfall to the John Major administration in 1997 when a series of sleaze scandals saw the Tories fall to Tony Blair’s left-wing Labour Party.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that today we are facing one of the biggest crises of confidence in government and the people that run us that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” Mr Farage said on Tuesday.

“This is a government built on lies, they think they can lie their way out of any situation,” he added, continuing to warn that if Johnson stays in office, then the Conservatives are “headed for the biggest electoral cataclysm since 1997, it might be even worse than that.”

“Now is the time to find out whether the party can be saved or whether it’s going to be dragged down with Johnson and a bunch of college kids running number ten,” Farage declared.

Last week,  Boris Johnson’s former deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher resigned from his post in the whip’s office after allegations emerged that he had sexually groped two men at the Carlton Club in London.

While Pincher admitted he “drank far too much” on the night in question and had “embarrassed” himself, as well as seeking professional medical support, he has so far denied any criminal behaviour. Despite the denials, he has since had the Tory whip removed from him in the House of Commons, meaning that he now sits in the parliament as an independent MP.

After it emerged that there had been previous allegations of a similar nature made against Pincher, Downing Street denied that Mr Johnson had any knowledge of specific accusations against Pincher. However, the BBC has reported that the PM was briefed on the matter in 2019.

On Tuesday, the parliamentary standards commissioner, Lord Simon McDonald chastised the government for failing to get its story straight on the growing scandal.

The former top civil servant at the Foreign Office likened the various statements on the issue from Number 10 to “telling the truth and crossing your fingers at the same time and hoping that people are not too forensic in their subsequent questioning”.

He said that a group of officials at the Foreign Office had “complained to me about Mr Pincher’s behaviour” and that “in substance, the allegations were similar to those made about his behaviour at the Carlton Club.”

“Mr Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation,” which reportedly resulted in Pincher apologising but not facing any disciplinary action.

While deputy prime minister Domonic Raab claimed that the PM had not been informed of such allegations, Lord McDonald said: “I know that the senior official briefed the prime minister in person because that official told me that at the time.

“Such complaints about ministers are very rare, very sensitive, they are dealt with at the very top level and so I had the help and support of the Cabinet Office throughout the investigation.”

Even prior to the Pincher affair, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been beset with a series of scandals, resulting in the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MP holding a confidence vote on the future of his leadership last month. Though Mr Johnson survived the vote, which under current rules should prevent another vote from being held for a year, there have been calls to change the rules of the committee to allow another vote sooner.

Senior Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said: “I have been saying for days now that I was not in favour of changing the rules of the 1922 Committee to permit another vote of confidence within the one-year timescale. Lord McDonald’s letter has changed my view.

“Mr Johnson has for three days now been sending ministers – in one case a cabinet minister – out to defend the indefensible, effectively to lie on his behalf. That cannot be allowed to continue.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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