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Meet Britain’s fastest-growing political group: the suspended MPs.

Booted out of their political tribes — at least temporarily — over a variety of headline-grabbing controversies, these British lawmakers are now sitting in the House of Commons as independent MPs.

Incredibly, the nomadic bloc now totals 18 members of parliament — and actually outnumbers Britain’s fourth-largest party, the Liberal Democrats, who have 15. Only the Tories, Labour and SNP constitute larger groups in Westminster.

Britain has had independent MPs before, of course — some who chose to run as independents; others who, as during the 2019 Brexit battles, were either forced out or chose to quit their parties over policy differences.

But to have so many MPs suspended over allegations of misconduct is a new phenomenon.

“I certainly can’t recall a parliament when there are so many MPs at Westminster who’ve been chucked out of their parties, whether temporarily or permanently,” Queen Mary University professor of politics Tim Bale said, when this list was first drawn up in the summer of 2023. The list of suspended MPs has only grown since then. Bale argued that it shows “the public and the media have lost any lingering sense of deference” they once had toward politicians.

Suspended MPs exist in a kind of limbo, Lilly noted. “It’s a weird situation for them — because they will almost still be acting like they are MPs of their previous party — but they don’t have access to the same kinds of resources that they might otherwise have had.”

The allegations against these MPs are unrelated and cover a wide range of issues. Some of them protest their innocence and may yet be exonerated.

But it’s hard to imagine a more obvious symbol of the outcry over standards in public life in Britain than the sheer size of Westminster’s bloc of (newly) independent MPs.

In the spirit of paying attention, here’s a reminder of all the MPs who, at the time of writing, are sitting as independents. POLITICO will be keeping it updated…

Mark Menzies — allegedly misusing campaign funds to pay ‘bad people’

Westminster was rocked by another sleaze scandal when the Times newspaper reported that Menzies — a Tory MP no stranger to controversy — called an elderly local party volunteer at 3.15 a.m. in December last year saying he was locked in a flat and needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death.”

The Conservatives suspended the whip from Menzies — who “strongly disputes the allegations put to me” — after the story broke. Menzies then quit the Tories and said he would stand down at the next election.

Geraint Davies — accused of harassment

A long-serving Labour MP, Davies was suspended pending an investigation in June after POLITICO reported on multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior toward junior female colleagues.

Five women said Davies subjected them to unwanted sexual attention, both physical and verbal, after coming into contact with them through his work as an MP. More women have since lodged formal complaints.

Davies said he did not “recognize” the allegations, adding: “If I have inadvertently caused offense to anyone, then I am naturally sorry.”

Diane Abbott — ‘offensive’ letter

The veteran left-wing MP currently sits as an independent, following her suspension from Labour in April 2023 over a letter she sent to the Observer newspaper.

In the letter, Abbott wrote that while Jewish, Irish and traveller people can experience prejudice, they “are not all their lives subject to racism.” She subsequently apologized, withdrew the remarks and blamed them on an “initial draft being sent.”

But Labour said her letter was “deeply offensive and wrong” and withdrew the whip from Abbott, pending a still-ongoing investigation.

Crispin Blunt — rape arrest

Formerly a Tory MP — and another veteran of parliament — Blunt was suspended by his party in October last year, after he was arrested on suspicion of rape and the possession of controlled substances.

In a statement on social media at the time, Blunt said he is “confident [the police investigation] will end without charge.” 

Andrew Bridgen — comparing Covid jabs to the holocaust

Bridgen has always been a Tory rebel — but the coronavirus pandemic unlocked a new side to the MP. 

“As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust,” Bridgen tweeted in January 2023. That saw the Conservatives immediately suspend him from the party. He was permanently expelled in April that year.

Bridgen then joined the Covid-sceptic Reclaim Party and sat as their only MP, but later resigned over a dispute with the party’s leader Laurence Fox. He now sits as an independent. 

Nick Brown — unknown complaint

Brown has been one of Labour’s great survivors, serving as chief whip in the last Labour government and then under its next three leaders.

But in September 2022, Brown was suspended from the party and lost the whip pending an investigation into a complaint. The nature of the complaint has not been disclosed. He resigned from the party in 2023, hitting out at its disciplinary procedures, and said he would not stand as an MP again.

Jeremy Corbyn — antisemitism row

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s current suspension from the party’s whip is a matter of deep consternation for the party’s left wing.

The suspension of Corbyn’s Labour membership was lifted a month later but Starmer and the party’s top brass declined to restore the whip, meaning Corbyn cannot sit as a Labour MP.

Jeffrey Donaldson — charged with sexual offenses

Donaldson’s shock resignation in March 2024 as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party rocked Northern Ireland, and added to the ranks of the U.K.’s independent MPs.

The former leader was charged with rape and other sexual offenses that were described as “non-recent.” He is due in court in April and told the DUP that he will be strenuously contesting the charges.

Jonathan Edwards — domestic violence

Elected as an MP for the Welsh-independence supporting Plaid Cymru in 2010, Edwards had the whip withdrawn in May 2020 when he was arrested on suspicion of assault.

He later accepted a police caution for domestic violence and was formally suspended from the party pending an investigation.

He was readmitted to the party in July 2022 — a decision that caused fury in Plaid, which has struggled with accusations of improper behavior in recent years. However, Edwards announced that he would not re-take his party’s whip and would remain an independent.

Matt Hancock — camel penis

No stranger to a scandal — why always Matt, you may ask — Hancock kept the right to sit as a Tory MP when he resigned from Boris Johnson’s government after breaking coronavirus rules in a tryst with an aide.

But his luck ran out last fall. His decision to jet off to the Australian jungle to take part in reality show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here” came at the price of his place in the Conservative Party — he lost the whip before he’d even landed in Australia.

Julian Knight — police inquiry

Senior MP Julian Knight had the Conservative whip withdrawn in December last year, pending investigation, after an allegation of sexual assault was made to the Metropolitan Police. Knight said he was “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.” The Met said in April last year they were no longer investigating. A fresh inquiry by Essex Police into the investigations ended in February with no further action.

Angus MacNeil — arguing with party chiefs

A rare SNP critic of former leader Nicola Sturgeon, perennial rebel MacNeil was long tolerated by party bosses — until he had a stand-up row with the party’s Westminster chief whip in front of several witnesses.

That row last year, over MacNeil allegedly missing some votes, led to a rap on the knuckles for the MP in the form of a week-long suspension. But MacNeil decided he wasn’t ready to return to the SNP whip when the suspension expired and said he would decide later in the year — which was unacceptable to SNP bosses, who permanently expelled him from the party.

He now intends to stand against his former party — as an independent, of course. 

Conor McGinn — unknown complaint

Then-Labour frontbencher Conor McGinn was suspended from the party and lost the whip pending an investigation of an unspecified complaint.

McGinn said at the time he had not been told of the details of the allegation but is “confident that it is entirely unfounded.”

Kate Osamor — comments on Gaza

Osamor became the latest left-wing Labour MP to be suspended by the leadership in January, following comments she made about Holocaust Memorial Day in her weekly newsletter.

In the newsletter, Osamor wrote that there was “an international duty” to remember the victims of the Holocaust, as well as “more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Gaza.” She apologized for “any offense caused” by her reference to Gaza, and now sits as an independent while the investigation continues. 

Rob Roberts — sexting scandal

Initially, the Conservatives’ head office opted not to suspend Roberts — who, after becoming an MP, sent lewd texts to a 21-year-old intern inviting her to “fool around.”

Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel stepped in, recommending in May 2021 a six-week suspension from the House of Commons for Roberts. He was subsequently stripped of the whip and had his Conservative membership suspended.

Though he was readmitted to the party membership in October that year, Roberts remains an independent MP.

Bob Stewart — (overturned) racial abuse conviction

Stewart, another Tory veteran, was found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offense and fined last year, after an exchange with a Bahraini human rights activist. He surrendered the Tory whip pending an appeal.

In February this year, he won his appeal — and had the offense overturned. Stewart is yet to be returned the whip. 

Tory-turned-independent MP Scott Benton was also forced out by a recall petition, after he was caught up in a fake gambling sting. As was Peter Bone, a veteran former Tory MP who was found by a parliamentary probe to have “committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct” against a male member of his staff. 

Rather than face a similar recall petition, the former Tory Housing Minister Chris Pincher resigned as an MP altogether when the Commons’ standards committee recommended an eight week suspension from parliament over allegations he groped two men while drunk. 

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