04:37, February 10 99 0 theguardian.com

2019-02-10 04:37:24
Pressure grows to oust Christopher Chope after FGM law blocked

Demands for Conservative MP Christopher Chope to be kicked out of the party were mounting last night as colleagues and campaigners voiced their anger over his move to block a law protecting girls from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Chope, who gained infamy after previously halting a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence, blocked a planned law protecting children from FGM by shouting “object!” when the bill was presented on Friday to the Commons for its second reading.

Nimco Ali, the co-founder of the anti-FGM charity Daughters of Eve, told the Observer that Chope should be ousted from the party and have the whip removed in the meantime.

“Senior cabinet ministers are saying what he’s done is completely unacceptable. His local Conservative association is fed up with him. He should have the whip removed and be deselected and if they [the Conservatives] have a vote of no confidence over him, then I’d be more than happy to come and speak.”

Ali added that it was important for the integrity of the Tory party that it acted decisively. “If the party wants to move forward and get the progressive vote, specifically of black African voters, it needs to be in line with this.”

Elsewhere, senior Tories came forward to express their anger over Chope’s behaviour. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was “very disappointed” by the MP’s move to block the legislation. Colleague Zac Goldsmith, who co-sponsored the bill, said Chope’s actions were “appalling” and tweeted: “Please note that once again he did not object to those [bills] put forward by his friends.”

Another Tory MP, Anna Soubry, said that Chope must be forced from the party to ensure the integrity of parliament. She tweeted: “If there’s any MP that needs deselecting/unseating then it must be #ChristopherChope!”

Despite Chope’s actions, Ali said she was confident the move to increase legal protection to girls would eventually become law.

“FGM could be seen as an obscure issue led by me, a black former child refugee, a young girl, going against somebody like Chope, who is essentially part of the establishment. But it shows that if you are on the right side of history, the right side of humanity, the good will always win out.”

Friday’s Commons debate would have allowed the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act in cases where children are believed to be at risk of FGM. The bill had already passed through the House of Lords.

Yet parliamentary rules dictate that it only requires one MP to shout “object” to a private member’s bill which is listed for a second reading but not debated to block its progress.

Chope, who has argued his aim is to prevent badly thought-out legislation, said he had not been objecting to the substance of the issue, but wanted to see all legislation properly debated.

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