It seems like the chances of forcing a by-election in Delyn to depose disgraced MP Rob Roberts are now approaching nil. At Commons’ leader questions this morning, Jacob Rees-Mogg was once again forced to rely on asking Roberts to do the decent thing and resign, after a procedural loophole meant his six-week suspension wasn’t greeted by an automatic recall petition. Responding to the ongoing standards crisis, Thangam Debbonaire told the press:
“To be suspended from the House for six weeks but not automatically be subject to the Recall Act shows the system is not fit for purpose, nor offering adequate protection and support for staff.
“This MP should do the decent thing and resign. But for as long as the Government leave the loophole in place, they are aiding and abetting his evasive strategy. Labour will use every device available to Parliament to close the loophole.”
On Monday, the House of Commons Commission met to discuss the Rob Roberts problem. Whilst Rees-Mogg remains committed to closing the loophole – preferably via a non-legislative route – Guido understands any attempts to apply retrospective measures are a non-starter, given fears it would undermine the independence of the Independent Expert Panel – something seen as essential for achieving long-lasting culture change. Staffers can now look forward to the return of Rob Roberts in two weeks’ time…