Crispin Blunt: Tory MP in row over colleague’s sex assault conviction to quit parliament

Crispin Blunt’s departure will spark battle for safe Tory seat at next general election

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 02 May 2022 19:31 BST
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has announced he will stand down at the next election
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has announced he will stand down at the next election (PA Archive)

A Tory MP who sparked fury by coming to the defence of a colleague found guilty of child sex assault has announced he will stand down from parliament at the next election.

Crispin Blunt was forced to apologise and resign as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on global LGBT+ rights after condemning the conviction of Imran Ahmad Khan as an “international scandal”.

First elected as MP for Reigate 25 years ago in 1997, Mr Blunt has been one of parliament’s most vocal defenders of gay and transgender rights since coming out in 2010.

In a statement announcing his decision to step down, he said he would use his remaining time in parliament to “continue to call out long-established populist views on policy shibboleths that continue to cause damage to our society and beyond”.

After serving as an army officer and then an adviser to then foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind – who he later backed in a Tory leadership battle – Mr Blunt was chosen to fight the Surrey seat after predecessor Sir George Gardiner defected to the anti-EU Referendum Party.

He served on the Conservative front bench in opposition under Iain Duncan Smith, but quit his role in 2003, arguing the leader was a “handicap” to the party’s fortunes.

After serving as an opposition whip under Michael Howard, he joined the coalition Tory-Lib Dem government as prisons minister in 2010.

His separation from his wife and decision to come out is believed to have prompted a vote by his local party executive not to endorse his candidacy for the next election, but the decision was overturned in a postal ballot of constituency members.

In 2016 he raised eyebrows in parliament by stating during a Commons debate on proposals to ban poppers that he was a user of the substance.

In a post on his website, 61-year-old Mr Blunt – the uncle of actress Emily Blunt – said he wanted to “use this 25th anniversary to make public, what those closest to me have known privately for some time, that after seven increasingly tumultuous parliaments, this will be my last”.

Mr Blunt’s departure will spark a scramble among would-be Tory MPs to be selected candidate in the ultra-safe seat of Reigate, which has been Conservative since 1910 – apart from Gardiner’s brief stint as Referendum Party MP – and recorded a majority of 18,310 in the 2019 election.

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