A Tory MP has been disowned and branded a “misogynist” by his own local councillors after a blocking a law to protect young girls from Female Genital Mutilation.
Ten Conservative members of Christchurch Borough Council united to declare Christopher Chope’s actions “in no way” reflect them and demanded a meeting with the MP this week.
The damning statement came as “appalled” Tory minister Liz Truss accused Sir Christopher of blocking a move that “could have saved girls’ lives”.
Vowing to corner him in Parliament, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury told Sky News: “When I see one of my colleagues opposing a measure that could have saved girls’ lives, could have saved girls from that horrendous experience, I am absolutely appalled by that.”
Yet Ms Truss stopped short of saying he should lose the Tory whip – and he continues to represent the party in Parliament.
Sir Christopher shouted “object” on Friday to a Bill that would make it easier for judges to move child FGM victims into care.
He argued he was preventing it passing a key stage, its second reading, without any debate – which would be undemocractic.
But he only shouted “object” to some Bills and not others. And Commons rules mean the law had to be stalled for more than a month.
Tory whips are now planning to bring the law forward in government time, meaning Sir Christopher will not be able to block it.
Now members of Sir Christopher’s own local council in Dorset are seeking an urgent meeting with him to make their views clear.
A joint statement by 10 of the borough’s 21 Tory councillors said: “A meeting of the Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Constituency Executive has been called to which Sir Christopher Chope has been invited.
“Conservative Councillors for Christchurch will attend this meeting and will ask him to explain his actions.
“Conservative Cllrs for would like to make it clear the actions of our MP in no way reflect our opinions.
“They do not believe that pedantry should take precedence over human rights.
“And it is time for the misogynistic old guard to recognise and reflect the opinions of the modern Conservative.
“FGM is not acceptable in today’s society and we hope that the House of Commons will find a way of dealing with this as a matter of urgency.”
Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Association chairman Cllr Ray Bryan told the Bournemouth Daily Echo an urgent meeting of the association’s executive would take place.
“I have received a number of calls, some not very pleasant, others just demanding he is deselected,” he said.
Sir Christopher – who also objected to a law against “upskirting” – has faced a massive backlash from Tory MPs and ministers in the Cabinet with calls for him to lose the whip.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said he was “hugely disappointed” and hoped Sir Christopher “will reflect”.
“This is a hugely sensitive and serious issue,” Mr Brokenshire told the BBC. “We need to make change and that is what we will do.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid blasted: “Very disappointed by this. FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice. We will do all we can protect girls at risk.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Outraged Chris Chope has blocked the FGM safeguarding Bill in Parliament today. His actions are wrong, pure & simple.”
But Ms Truss said he should not lose the whip, instead claiming she wanted to seek him out and “change his mind”.
Sir Christopher has not commented when approached by the Mirror.
Instead he told the Daily Telegraph he was in favour of the FGM legislation but wanted it to be debated properly by MPs.
He said: “It is a fundamental point… Even the Government insists on having its own Bills debated on second reading.”
Asked about his response to the criticism from the Cabinet ministers, he said: “It is a pity they are indulging in virtue-signalling rather than looking at the substance.”
He added: “My constituents know what I am doing. We are having letters saying ‘what is Parliamentary democracy all about?’ I object to Bills going through undebated at second reading.”
“People are muddling up the substance of the matter. You could virtue signal. We could do all of our law by emotion rather than by debate.”