Sir Christopher Chope to be questioned by Conservative officials after he blocked bill to protect girls from FGM

Local party arranges ‘urgent’ meeting as MP faces calls for deselection

Adam Forrest
Saturday 09 February 2019 17:43
Christopher Chope blocks bill to protect girls from FGM

Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope has been summoned to an urgent meeting by local party officials after he blocked a bill designed to protect children from female genital mutilation (FGM).

The member for Christchurch will be asked to justify his decision to obstruct the legislation in the House of Commons.

His objection on Friday effectively ended the progress of a FGM prevention private members’ bill, sparking outrage among senior Tories and anti-FGM campaigners, who called on the party to deselect the MP.

The head of the Daughters of Eve charity described Sir Christopher as “an embarrassment to humanity”, while MP Zac Goldsmith called his fellow MP’s actions “appalling”.

The Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Association has arranged the showdown after receiving a series of angry phone calls regarding the bill’s obstruction.

Councillor Ray Bryan, chairman of the association, told the Bournemouth Daily Echo some of the calls were “not very pleasant” and said he had called an “urgent” meeting.

Ten Tory councillors in Christchurch also issued a joint statement distancing themselves from Sir Christopher’s actions, saying “the misogynistic old guard” did not represent the party.

“Conservative councillors for Christchurch will attend this meeting and will ask him to explain his actions. Conservative councillors for Christchurch would like to make it clear the actions of our MP in no way reflect their opinions.”

The statement added: “They do not believe that pedantry should take precedence over human rights and it is time for the misogynistic old guard to recognise and reflect the opinions of the modern Conservative.”

Local Conservative Party associations have the power to deselect a sitting MP as the party’s candidate for the next general election.

North Dorset MP Simon Hoare, a fellow Conservative, tweeted: “It’s time he considered his position and frankly buggered off.”

Nimco Ali, founder of the Daughters of Eve charity, called for Sir Christopher’s deselection and tweeted: “What we need to change is some of the people sitting in the Commons and the Lords who are not fit for the roles they hold.”

On Friday she told The Independent that the proposed legislation would now have to be included in a government bill because Sir Christopher was determined to keep blocking the private members’ bill.

Later in the day the government’s chief whip Julian Smith MP tweeted: “Working to find ways ASAP to bring back FGM Bill in Government time – confident we can do so.”

Home secretary Sajid Javid said he was “very disappointed” in Sir Christopher’s objection and pledged: “We will do all we can to protect girls at risk.”

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