Former MP Neil Parish could stand in by-election triggered by own resignation

‘I will decide before nominations close,’ ex-MP says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 13 May 2022 11:30
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<p>Former Tory MP Neil Parish </p>

Former Tory MP Neil Parish

Former Tory MP Neil Parish who admitted watching pornography in the Commons chamber is taking “soundings” on standing in a by-election triggered by his own resignation.

It comes after Mr Parish stood aside in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency in April after becoming the focus of a political storm when two female MPs reported him to party whips.

After a 12-year stint in the Commons, Mr Parish admitted at the time to looking at adult material on two ocassions, includng in the chamber, in what he described as a “moment of madness”.

Speaking to The Telegraph’s Chopper’s podcast, Mr Parish, who was first elected to the seat in 2010, said it was “option” for him to stand as an independent in the by-election — expected before the summer recess.

“It is an option for me and one that I could consider,” he said. “The only thing that may well stop me is the face my local party, my local activists, my local councillors, are friends. I don’t know if I want to do that to them.

“Some of the hierarchy in my own party, I suppose I wouldn’t have the same problem with doing it. At the moment, I’m taking soundings”.

Mr Parish suggested he could raise the funds to stand through some powerful backers within the farming community. “I don’t think I’m going there, but, it’s an option,” he said.

However, he added: “I will decide before nominations close. Don’t forget I have fought five local elections, two European elections and five parliamentary elections.

“I know how elections works and don’t forget, I’m a grassroots politician and I made my own way through the ranks”.

Recalling his decision to resign from Parliament earlier this month, Mr Parish also described his decision to watch pornography in the Commons chamber as “immoral” and a “terrible” mistake. “I shall regret it for the rest of my life”.

He also said it was a “crazy mistake” to appear on GB News — before he was identified as the MP who had watched porn — to say the issue should be treated “seriously” by the Conservative Party whips.

“Perhaps I ought not to have been quite so naive having been in politics so long that they would land that on me,” he said. “Yet another mistake.”

He also told the podcast: “The trouble is when you want to come clean and when you want to try it and do it in a reasonably honourable way, albeit how stupid I was and how offensive I was, the system doesn’t really work for that. It works for somebody who wants to wriggle and hide.

“I just made a big mistake, and I just want to ask them to forgive what I did. I’ve done what I should have done – and that was to go and to go quickly. It is a pretty painful process, I can assure you, when you do it.”

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