Chief whip Julian Smith under pressure over Brexit votes 'pairing' row

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis broke Brexit vote pact with Jo Swinson who had just given birth

Chief whip Julian Smith under pressure over Brexit votes 'pairing' row

THE Tory failure to stick to a voting pact with a senior opposition MP on maternity leave was "not good enough", Theresa May has said. This breached the pairing deal with Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP who is on maternity leave.

"To be fair, hats off to the two MPs who told their chief whip to take a running jump when he asked them to break a pairing just because the govt might lose".

Speaking to the Spectator podcast, Hoey said: "I gather she was OK to go on an anti-Trump demonstration so I'm not clear why she wasn't able to come and vote".

However, party whips told Mr Lewis to take part regardless, and his vote helped Theresa May narrowly avoid a damaging defeat.

There are calls for Julian Smith, the Tory Chief Whip to resign following claims he urged three Conservative MPs to "defy pairing deals" in order to win a knife-edge Brexit vote on Tuesday, breaking parliamentary convention. "Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis must now resign or be sacked, and Theresa May must apologise for misleading the House". Two of the MPs are reported to have refused to break their pairing arrangements.

Several MPs have slammed the tactics, with Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery describing the Government as "rotten to the core".

Pressure to resign grew today after Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire Heidi Allen said that when she challenged Mr Smith, he had been "unable to confirm to me that he did not give instructions to break pairs".

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The Trump administration has also angered key allies by imposing tariffs of steel and aluminum imports earlier this year. United States export duties on Chinese products came into force on July 6 with China retaliating hours later.

The Conservative Party did not deny the allegations.

Yesterday, Ms Swinson said: "This reflects pretty badly on those peddling the "honest mistake" nonsense".

Mrs May's spokeswoman insisted she retained full confidence in her Chief Whip.

SNP Westminster leader Pete Wishart asked in the Commons for a full inquiry into the breakdown of pairing.

I spoke to the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, about the allegations - and her new plans to combat harassment and bullying in Parliament. And - completely by chance, we are supposed to believe - he happened to have walked through the correct division lobby in the two tightest votes of the day.

There is no such thing, formally, as parental leave for MPs.

The Tory spokesman said: "We have apologised for the fact that a pregnancy pairing arrangement was broken in error this week".

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