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UK Minister draws parallel between election betting scandal and Partygate controversy

UK Minister draws parallel between election betting scandal and Partygate controversy

UK Minister draws parallel between election betting scandal and Partygate controversy

UK Minister draws parallel between election betting scandal and Partygate controversy

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  • The scandal has caused public anger and has led to the resignation of Prime Minister Johnson in 2022.
  • Four Tory figures have been implicated in the affair.
  • London police arrested one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s security detail for allegedly placing a bet on the date.
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In an interview with the Times newspaper on Saturday, Housing Minister Michael Gove compared the latest scandal involving Tory candidates accused of betting on the election date to Partygate, the series of Covid-era parties that led to Boris Johnson’s downfall.

“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.

Public anger over revelations of parties held in Downing Street during the pandemic forced Prime Minister Johnson from office in 2022. Now, another senior Conservative Party figure has become embroiled in the latest scandal.

According to the PA news agency, the party’s chief data officer, Nick Mason, has taken a leave of absence following claims that he placed bets on the timing of the election. According to The Times, betting regulators are investigating Mason for allegedly placing dozens of bets on the election date. Four Tory figures have been implicated in the affair.

On Thursday, the party’s campaign director stepped aside following reports that he and his wife, a Tory candidate in the July 4 election, were under investigation by the Gambling Commission. The scandal had broken a week earlier when Tory candidate and Sunak’s ministerial aide Craig Williams stated that he was being probed for staking a bet on the snap election date before it was called.

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London police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s security detail for allegedly placing a bet on the date. Sunak expressed being “incredibly angry” 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.

In the UK, political bets, including those on the date of elections, are allowed, but using insider knowledge to place them is against the law. The inquiries compound Sunak’s misery, with his party trailing Labour by about 20 points in the polls for nearly two years, making it odds-on to lose office after 14 years.

Gove said that those involved in the betting scandal were “sucking the oxygen out of the campaign.” He compared it to Partygate again, adding, “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.”

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