British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing another by-election challenge after a lawmaker who was suspended for groping two men resigned.
Chris Pincher, who now sits as an independent, announced on Thursday that he would leave the House of Commons. He was suspended from the Conservative Party in July 2022 for the groping allegations.
The by-election to replace Pincher will be held on October 19, the same day as another by-election to replace former culture minister Nadine Dorries.
The two by-elections could add to pressure on Sunak, whose Conservative Party lost two out of three parliamentary seats contested in July.
The Conservatives are trailing behind the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls, and more defeats would be a further embarrassment.
Pincher has apologised for his behaviour and said he had been unable to recall the events.
The resignation of Pincher is another blow to Sunak, who is already facing criticism for his handling of the economy and the cost of living crisis.
The by-elections will be a test of Sunak’s popularity and his ability to lead the Conservative Party into the next general election, which is expected to be held in 2024.
The by-elections are also being seen as a test of the Conservative Party’s ability to recover from the scandal of parties held at 10 Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Sunak has been criticised for his handling of the scandal, and the by-elections could further damage his authority.
The Conservative Party is also facing internal divisions over its economic policies. Some members of the party are calling for more tax cuts, while others are urging Sunak to take a more interventionist approach to the economy.
The by-elections will be a major test for Sunak and the Conservative Party. The results will provide a clue as to whether the party is able to recover from its recent scandals and win the next general election.
In addition to the by-elections, Sunak is also facing a challenge from within his own party. A group of Conservative MPs have submitted a letter of no confidence in his leadership. If 54 MPs submit letters, a vote of no confidence will be triggered.
Sunak is facing a difficult time in his premiership. The by-elections and the no-confidence vote are just two of the challenges he is facing. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to overcome these challenges and remain in power.