Rishi Sunak faces another by-election headache after ex-Conservative MP resigns

Rishi Sunak is facing another by-election headache after ex-Conservative MP Scott Benton resigned today.

Benton was already facing a recall petition and potentially a by-election after the House of Commons voted to approve a motion to suspend him for 35 days.

Benton, who was elected as the MP for Blackpool South at the 2019 election, was found to have committed a “very serious” breach of parliamentary rules by the standards committee in December when he was caught offering to act on behalf of gambling investors.

The committee said the former Conservative MP, having had whip the removed from him over the incident, was “clearly motivated” by financial gain.

The standards committee report was approved by MPs last month, in the first part of a process that would have likely triggered a by-election in his marginal “red wall” seat.

Any suspension of at least 10 days triggers a recall petition in a member’s constituency. Then, if more than a tenth of the voters in an MP’s constituency sign the petition, a by-election is called.

Benton’s decision to resign as an MP comes 12 days after the recall petition was opened in his constituency.

In a letter to his former constituents, first seen by GB News, Benton said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have written to the Chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP.

“I’d like to thank the hundreds of residents who have sent supportive messages, cards and letters over the last few months and who have urged me to continue and fight the next election.”

When Benton won the Blackpool South seat in 2019, it was the first time the Conservative Party had won in the constituency since 1992.

He won the “Red Wall” constituency with a majority of 3,690, making it a marginal seat. On current polling, Labour is expected to win the forthcoming by-election – likely by some margin.


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