• Thursday, July 18, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Michael Gove compares Tory betting scandal to Partygate

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us… That’s the most potentially damaging thing,” said Michael Gove.

Michael Gove said those involved in the betting scandal were ‘sucking the oxygen out of the campaign.’ (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Housing minister Michael Gove has compared the recent scandal involving Tory candidates accused of betting on the election date to the Partygate controversy, which involved Covid-era parties that led to Boris Johnson’s downfall.

In an interview with The Times on Saturday, Gove said the betting allegations are similar to Partygate.

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us… That’s the most potentially damaging thing,” said Gove, who is standing down this election after 14 years as an MP.

“That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here,” he added.

Prime minister Johnson was forced from office in 2022 after public anger over parties held in Downing Street during the lockdown. Now, another senior Conservative Party figure is involved in the latest scandal.

The party’s chief data officer, Nick Mason, has taken a leave of absence following claims he placed bets on the timing of the election, the PA news agency reported Saturday.

Mason is being investigated by betting regulators for allegedly placing dozens of bets on the election date, according to The Times.

He is the fourth Tory figure implicated in the affair.

The party’s campaign director stepped aside after reports on Thursday that he and his wife, a Tory candidate in the 4th July election, were under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

The scandal began a week earlier when Tory candidate and Sunak’s ministerial aide, Craig Williams, said he was being probed for betting on the snap election date before it was called.

On Wednesday, London police announced that a member of prime minister Rishi Sunak’s security detail had been arrested for allegedly placing a bet on the date.

Sunak expressed his anger over the revelations. “If anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party,” he said earlier this week.

Political bets are allowed in the UK, including on the date of elections, but using insider knowledge to do so is against the law.

The inquiries add to Sunak’s challenges, as his party has trailed Labour by about 20 points in the polls for nearly two years.

Gove said those involved in the betting scandal were “sucking the oxygen out of the campaign.”

Comparing it to Partygate again, he added: “A few individuals end up creating an incredibly damaging atmosphere for the party. So it’s both bad in itself, but also destructive to the efforts of all of those good people who are currently fighting hard for the Conservative vote.”

(With inputs from AFP)

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