Former Tory MP Scott Benton resigns from parliament, triggering by-election

Politics

A former Tory MP who was facing the prospect of being removed from his seat by voters has announced he is resigning from parliament – triggering another by-election.

Scott Benton, who represents Blackpool South, said it had been “the honour of a lifetime to represent our wonderful Blackpool community in parliament over the last four years”.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I have written to the chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP,” he said in a post on X.

His resignation will trigger a by-election unless Rishi Sunak calls a general election sooner – something that is unlikely after he ruled out holding an election on 2 May and said he is still aiming for the second half of the year.

The by-election will be launched following the process of moving the writ in parliament, which asks MPs whether they agree to a by-election.

Sky News understands that the writ for the Blackpool South by-election to be moved tomorrow – meaning it could be held on the same day as the local elections on 2 May.

Mr Benton, who was elected to the seat in 2019, was facing a recall petition after he was suspended from the Commons for 35 days over his role in a lobbying sting.

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MPs approved the suspension last month without the need for a vote.

Mr Benton could have been forced out by voters had 10% of his constituents signed the recall petition that was generated following his suspension.

The outgoing MP had the Tory whip removed last April after suggesting to undercover reporters at The Times that he would be willing to break lobbying rules for money.

A subsequent investigation by parliament’s Standards Committee found he had committed a “very serious breach” of the rules and recommended a 35-day suspension from the Commons.

Mr Benton then appealed the decision, but it was dismissed by the Independent Expert Panel, the body that sits above the committee.

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The by-election will be the 23rd contest that has taken place this parliament and follows on from the most recent contest in Rochdale, which was won by George Galloway last month.

Earlier this month, Mr Sunak ruled out holding a general election on 2 May following speculation he could choose to go to the polls early.

The prime minister previously said it was his “working assumption” that an election would be held in the second half of this year but he had not previously ruled out a May date.

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