When Sir Christopher Chope stopped to a bill to ban upskirting on Friday, he was denounced in the most vicious terms, as Steerpike revealed, by his fellow Tories. They were appalled by the optics of a 71-year-old Tory who rejected the bill without saying why. Sir Christopher has now come out swinging, saying how appalled he is that his fellow Tories assumed he was against the ban when he was – and remains – all for it. In fact, his main complaint is that it has taken the government so long to back a ban. Theresa May, he says, has ‘a lot to answer for’ in not banning upskirting until now.
Chope says his problem was the way the Bill was being taken through parliament (via a Private Members Bill) with no debate rather than as a government bill with debate. His fellow Tories panicked, joined a feeding frenzy – he says – without any of them contacting him. Social media works fast; Sir Christopher works slowly. He’s made this point in an interview with his local paper, the Bournemouth Echo, and only now to ITN. Here’s what he had to say:-
‘I had a chat with Gina [Matin], who’s been promoting this whole process. She understood perfectly why I blocked the bill. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who have chosen not to understand perfectly – and have ascribed to me motives which are totally malicious.
Even if I’d been charged with a criminal offence, I’d have expected my colleagues would actually assume that there was a presumption of innocence until guilt. None of my colleagues have spoken to me about this. But they have decided that they would try and feed the media frenzy by making comments that are actually totally inaccurate… I hope that as a result of what I’ve done, this Bill will be taken forward now as a government Bill and as a result will be on the statue book much sooner than it would have done and will be properly considered in parliament… You can’t have a major bill with a second reading with no debate and thats what the government were trying to contrive.
There was legislation on this in Scotland in 2009. Why is it we have done nothing about this in England since 2009? I don’t know, and Gina’s campaign is a good one.
Why was it that it was only on Thursday last week that the government came off the fence on whether it supported this bill? The government has got a lot to answer for. It will now bring forward its own, and I will support it strongly.
Now, if this is the case, why could No10 not have said so? Why could Theresa May not have told Andrew Marr this? Fortunately for Sir Christopher, he is not yet on Twitter, so he did not have to suffer the indignity of the following tweet by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant:
Am thinking of taking an up the trouser leg photo of Sir Christopher Chope……..
— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) June 17, 2018
Sir Christopher says that he feels humiliated, but has said that ‘Hopefully when this [bill] does get into the statute book, they will accept I was right’.
Mr S suspects Sir Christopher best not hold his breath…