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Sunak concerned over report of MPs carousing abroad – spokesman

UK lawmakers should focus on work, the PM’s representative said, passing the issue to the House of Commons

A report detailing alleged instances of drunken and sexual misbehavior by UK MPs and peers on sponsored jaunts to foreign countries seems “concerning” to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his spokesman acknowledged on Wednesday. 

Incidents detailed in Politico’s earlier investigation included a Conservative MP who allegedly approached his Southeast Asian hosts to ask directions to the closest brothel. On another trip, this time to China, a different Conservative lawmaker boasted to his group about procuring a Chinese sex worker, inspiring a euphemism that became a running joke during the visit.   

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A former minister supposedly waited until the other members of his traveling group had returned to the UK to pursue his “interest in [local] women.” A Labour MP’s apparent fondness for “Russian girls” supposedly left local officials desperate to “intervene” but unwilling to risk rupturing relationships in Westminster. 

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Nor were all the instances of sexual impropriety the fault of the UK MPs, the outlet explained, describing one trip where lawmakers arrived at their hotel only to discover their hosts had placed prostitutes in their rooms ahead of their visit. Drunkenness is also endemic, according to the report, with MPs regularly missing meetings and making spectacles of themselves in public due to overindulgence.  

Admitting that “some of the behavior reported is clearly very concerning,” a spokesman for 10 Downing Street nevertheless told Politico that the issue of reining in the lawmakers-gone-wild was the sole responsibility of the House of Commons and that Sunak would not be commenting on it further. 

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At the core of the controversy are All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), about 700 largely unregulated backbench groups of MPs from two or more parties – united by policy or especially country interests – who travel on parliamentary time and with access to parliamentary buildings, often flying on the tab of overseas governments, without meaningful oversight. 

Warning earlier this year that influence-peddling by such groups could “represent the next great parliamentary scandal,” the House of Commons standards committee issued a set of recommendations – reduce the number of APPGs, restrict direct contributions by foreign governments, and appoint a “gatekeeper” to monitor the remaining groups. The committee’s solutions have not been discussed since September, according to Politico.

December 31, 2022 at 12:39AM
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