When a little-known member of Britain’s parliament got drunk at an exclusive club last week and then staggered into a warm London night, few would have thought he would throw the government into disarray and threaten Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Alcohol and nights out are rarely strangers in British politics, so Chris Fincher’s actions could easily have gone unnoticed.
But a week later, an unfolding scandal engulfed Mr. Johnson’s government has thrown into stark relief the three fundamental problems facing it: competence, confidence and, above all, faith.
On Tuesday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid both said Mr. Leaving the government in letters to Johnson thinly veiled confidence in his leadership.
The 52-year-old MP for Tamworth in the Midlands, Mr. Pincher, however, has almost no national profile. But within British politics he is Mr. He gained a reputation as a staunch Johnson loyalist and an expert in the art of getting other Conservative lawmakers to vote through government business. For those qualities, Mr. Johnson made him a junior minister in 2019 and then, this February, a deputy whip charged with marshalling government business.
In this latter task, his colleagues say, he was unusually efficient, helping to organize a radar operation dubbed by at least some. “Operation Save Big Dog” This is Mr. Johnson survived last month, albeit briefly. A vote of confidence by his colleagues in Parliament.
But there was a problem. Mr. Fincher has previously held the whip’s office, but was forced out in 2017 after he was accused of making an unwanted pass at former professional rower Alex Storey, a Conservative activist. Mr Pincher was accused of inappropriate behavior while working at the Foreign Office in 2019.
Mr. The current crisis is due to the decision to bring Johnson back into government.
Last Wednesday, Mr. Pincher attended. He is accused of caning two people while there. Eyewitnesses said he was so drunk that they took him in a taxi.
The next day, dejectedly, Mr. Johnson wrote a letter on House of Commons notepaper announcing his resignation as Deputy Whip. “I drank too much last night,” he said. “I have embarrassed myself and others, and this is the last thing I want to do, and for that I apologize to you and to those involved.”
That is not the end. Mr. The government insisted for days that Johnson had no knowledge of the previous allegations, but it emerged he was aware of the 2019 complaint, but Mr Pincher was appointed deputy whip. Simon MacDonald, a former top civil servant at the Foreign Office, published a public letter on Tuesday accusing Downing Street of distorting the facts.
Opposition legislators demanded Pincher’s resignation from Parliament. In radio and television interviews Mr. Government ministers sent to defend Johnson’s handling of the matter appeared uneasy.
Through it all, Mr. Pincher avoided the limelight and remained silent, denying the allegations against him.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”