UK Conservative lawmaker charged with sexual assault | News | DW | 22.07.2019
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UK Conservative lawmaker charged with sexual assault

Prosecutors in Britain have confirmed they are charging Conservative lawmaker Charlie Elphicke with sexual assault against two women. The loss of a Tory lawmaker could pose a headache for the UK's next prime minister.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service on Monday said it was charging Member of Parliament Charlie Elphicke with three counts of sexual assault.

Prosecutors said the decision to charge Elphicke, a member of the UK's ruling Conservative Party, had been taken after it reviewed a file of evidence from police.

The allegations against Elphicke come from two women, with one count in 2007 and the other two in 2016.

 The charges could pose a problem for the UK's next prime minister, who is due to take over from incumbent Theresa May on Wednesday.

The 49-year-old was suspended from the Conservative party in 2017 after allegations against him were referred to the police.  In December last year, the MP was brought back into the fold ahead of a confidence vote in Theresa May.

Tory headache

Should Elphicke be convicted, a by-election could be triggered that might see the government's razor-thin majority further whittled away. For that to happen, at least 10 percent of his constituents would need to sign a petition to have him removed.

With help from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, the Conservatives have an effective working majority of just four. The party already faces the loss of Welsh Tory lawmaker Chris Davies, who was removed from office by a recall petition after being convicted of falsifying invoices, which would reduce its majority to three.

Elphicke, a keen proponent of Britain's exit from the EU, represents the southern port town of Dover. The town voted heavily in favor of leaving the bloc and would likely be a key electoral target for euroskeptic politician Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

rc/amp (Reuters, AP)

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