The Tory MP Brooks Newmark has quit the government – after having been tricked into sending “inappropriate messages” on WhatsApp to a journalist posing as a 20-year-old Tory activist. As the Sunday Mirror puts it:-
As part of a series of exchanges, he sent a graphic picture exposing himself while wearing a pair of paisley pyjamas
No laws were broken and the paisley pyjamas at least show that some Tory traditions are being upheld. He’s not standing down as an MP – as we know, sending such pictures need not end a political career (Labour’s Chris Bryant says this increased his majority). But it doesn’t help a ministerial career: Newmark is out as civil society minister. He becomes he second Tory to quit in a day.
Newmark, a father of four, has always struck me as one of the nicer guys in politics – affable as well as sharp. And digitally-savvy. He is co-founder of Women 2 Win, a group which supports aspiring MPs with training and other material. Only recently he was sending Tweets with the hashtag #GirlsMatter and lamenting the lack of women MPs.
In his capacity as a Women 2 Win advocate he met to someone he thought was a Tory PR girl called Sophie interested in a seat. In fact it was a freelance journalist (who went on to flog the story to the Sunday Mirror) interested in a scalp. After a while, he suggested a picture swap…
“By the way I have no idea what you look like so post a pic to me on Whatsapp so I know what you look like when I meet you.”
Next, the Sunday Mirror says,
Newmark initiated a private message conversation online and, during flirtatious chats and photo exchanges, sent a graphic snap exposing himself while wearing a pair of [dark blue and red] paisley pyjamas.
During a late-night chat with the undercover reporter, who had sent him an explicit picture supposedly of “Sophie”, Newmark asked for a more explicit picture “without your hands in the way and legs parted”. He then said: “I will send you something in return – that way we each have a secret..“Assuming it meets my request and I reciprocate you MUST swear on a stack of Bibles you won’t show pics as I promise not to show pics of you? OK?”
Only yesterday he was trying to set up a meeting, sending a text asking if she’d like to meet up at the Tory conference in Birmingham:-
“Afternoons fairly full with speaking engagements but around late evenings. Promise we’ll meet up though. X.
He’ll now be free all week. Here’s his resignation statement:
‘I have decided to resign as Minister for Civil Society having been notified of a story to be published in a Sunday newspaper. I would like to appeal for the privacy of my family to be respected at this time. I remain a loyal supporter of this Government as its long term economic plan continues to deliver for the British people.’
No laws have been broken, and he’s still an MP. His ministerial seat has been filled by Rob Wilson who is – surprise surprise – a former aide to George Osborne. Presumably with a less compromising outbox.
This post was updated on Sunday