Boris Johnson's handling of Pincher scandal 'unforgivable', says Welsh Conservatives leader

Andrew RT Davies said he would have stepped down had the same scandal happened under his leadership. Credit: PA Images

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has described the Prime Minister's handling of the Chris Pincher groping allegations as "unforgivable".

Chris Pincher dramatically resigned as deputy chief whip last month after allegedly groping two fellow guests at a Conservative private members' club in London.

Downing Street said Boris Johnson was not aware of any "specific allegations" about Mr Pincher when he appointed him to the whips office, but it later emerged that he was told about allegations against him as far back as 2019.

Andrew RT Davies MS told Times Radio that he would have stepped down had the scandal happened under his leadership.

"If that had happened on my watch then certainly I wouldn't be leading this group because I would feel it upon myself to step back from it," he said.

Mr Johnson was forced into a humiliating apology over his handling of the row, but it wasn't enough for two of his most senior Cabinet ministers, who resigned on Tuesday.

Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid stepped down from their roles as chancellor and health secretary respectively.

A number of resignations from government followed in the ensuing hours, including from Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie, who quit her post as parliamentary private secretary to the Wales Office.

Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones said she would also resign from her government role if Mr Johnson does not step down by Thursday, adding that she "can no longer support him in good faith".

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams followed shortly after, stepping down from his role as parliamentary private secretary to the chancellor.

He said: "I gave the Prime Minister my last benefit of the doubt some weeks ago. It is my view that we now need a new leader."

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP refused to answer a question over when he would step down from his post. Credit: PA Images

On Wednesday, the Secretary of State for Wales refused to answer whether he would also step down.

In the House of Commons, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts asked: "Time and again the Secretary of State has been rolled out to defend the indefensible on behalf of the Prime Minister.

"Two Cabinet ministers have gone, his PPS has gone...when will he be going?"

But Simon Hart MP said it is "business as usual in the Wales Office".

Ms Saville Roberts also asked if Mr Johnson wanted a "medal for being the best recruiting sergeant for independence we could wish for".

Mr Johnson responded: "I see the bonds of our union being strengthened the whole time and I'm confident that they will continue to do so."

The First Minister said it is "time for change" in response to the fallout.

Mark Drakeford MS said: "We need a UK Government and a Prime Minister the country can trust."Instead we have a UK Government solely focused on propping up the Prime Minister as he lurches from one crisis to another.

"It's time for a change."

But Andrew RT Davies said Boris Johnson still has an election mandate.

"So long as the Prime Minister can command that confidence in the House of Commons and the parliamentary party, and he did secure the mandate in 2019, to have a four or five year term in office delivering on the Conservative manifesto, and so long as he can command that majority he should be allowed to seek to deliver that manifesto," he said.

"But if it becomes self-evident that that majority isn't there, then obviously a change at the top as required."

  • Voters in Porthcawl give their views on Boris Johnson

Voters in Porthcawl, part of the Bridgend constituency, a marginal area gained from Labour by the Conservatives in 2019, had mixed views on Wednesday.

One told ITV News she wants Mr Johnson to remain as Prime Minister: "Because I think he's done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances, done a brilliant job with Covid."

In response to Partygate, another said: "He's not the first one who's not kept to the rules and regulations of Covid, I bet there's quite a few people who had a party when they shouldn't have done."

But some voters were adamant that he should go, "and quicker the better", one added.

Some were unsure, including those who voted for him in the last election.

One voter on the fence said she likes his "courage", but dislikes his "dishonesty".

"I thought he could do something for the country, but I don't know now," she added.

"I just want him to get on with running the country instead of fighting everybody else."