TORY rebels are plotting a fresh push to oust Boris Johnson as he faces fresh questions over what he knew about sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher before appointing him to the whips’ office.

The Prime Minister is alleged to have referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” before making him deputy chief whip in February.

The Tamworth MP – who is now facing more than a dozen allegations of misconduct – resigned from the role after being accused of drunkenly groping two men in a private members’ club in London.

It was the second time he resigned from the whips’ office after Conservative candidate Alex Story accused him of making an inappropriate advance in 2017.

Conservative rebels have now suggested that Johnson’s handling of the scandal has emboldened them, with some determined to change the rules of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers so they can hold another no confidence vote within the next year.

One disgruntled MP told The Times the row had “100%” boosted the plot to remove the PM from office. Rebels say they are angered “Boris put Pincher in because of his loyalty in breaking the plots and getting people on board — his previous misdemeanours were excused”.

A stream of fresh allegations against Mr Pincher emerged over the weekend, as one Tory backbencher said claims about his behaviour had been “swirling around Westminster for years”.

Conservative Staffers for Change, a group of young people working in parliament for MPs , wrote to the Prime Minister in May over concerns about illegal sexual misconduct, but received no response. A spokesperson told the Times that Pincher’s behaviour was “an open secret in Westminster”.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds has written to the Prime Minister demanding to know what Downing Street knew of the allegations about his ally before his second appointment as a whip.

“Only Boris Johnson could have looked at this guy’s record and thought ‘he deserves a promotion’,” she added in a statement.

“This Prime Minister is clearly happy to sweep sexual misconduct under the carpet in order to save his own skin.”

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She also questioned why the Tory whip was not suspended, meaning the MP now sits as an independent, until Friday when the incident took place at the Carlton Club on Wednesday.

A Downing Street source has argued that Johnson took the move after speaking to a Tory MP who was with one of the men allegedly groped by Pincher. “The account given was sufficiently disturbing to make the PM feel more troubled by all this,” the source told the PA news agency.

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former chief aide turned critic-in-chief, said Johnson referred to the MP “laughingly in No 10 as ‘Pincher by name, pincher by nature’ long before appointing him”.

The National: File photo dated 25/5/2020 of Dominic Cummings who claims that Boris Johnson's Downing Street is now a branch of the "entertainment industry", with a lack of serious focus on important issues. The Prime Minister's former chief aide used

Downing Street has not disputed that account, but Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey argued that Mr Johnson did not know “specific claims” about the MP.

“I don’t believe he was aware, that’s what I’ve been told today,” she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

Current party rules dictate that another challenge cannot be held for a year after last month’s confidence vote, which Mr Johnson won despite 148 Tory MPs voting against him.

But amid renewed questions over his judgment, there are suggestions that the upcoming elections for the 1922 Committee’s executive could focus on a compromise proposal to allow a vote sooner.

The change would mean a second confidence vote could be held if 25% of Tories in the Commons – 90 MPs – submit letters to the 1922 leadership, double the current amount required to trigger an initial vote.

Adding to a series of allegations, a man told the Sun that Pincher said “inappropriate things” before touching the top of his thigh in a meeting in the MP’s constituency office in 2018.

The Mail on Sunday alleged Pincher threatened to report a parliamentary researcher to her boss after she tried to stop his “lecherous” advances to a young man at a Conservative Party conference.

The Sunday Times alleged he made unwanted passes at two Conservative MPs in 2017 and 2018 – after his first resignation as a whip.

A Tory MP told the Independent he was groped on two occasions by Pincher, first in December 2021 and again last month In 2017, at the time a young Tory activist, Story described Pincher untucking the back of his shirt, massaging his neck and whispering “You’ll go far in the Tory Party”.

Pincher did not respond to requests for comment on the latest allegations, but the newspapers behind them said he denied the claims.

Junior minister Will Quince defended the Prime Minister on Monday morning, even as he faced questions about whether senior Cabinet ministers were reluctant to appear on the airwaves to discuss the issue.

The National: Junior minister Will Quince defended the PMJunior minister Will Quince defended the PM

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He questioned the credibility of Cummings when pressed on his allegation, but also declined to fully deny that he was aware of general rumours linked to the former deputy chief whip.

Quince, who repeatedly said Johnson was not aware of specific allegations, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are lot of rumours and gossip around Westminster … If I had a pound for every rumour that I’d heard about another MP, then I’d be a very wealthy man."

Tory MP Craig Whittaker indicated that he left his role in the whips’ office in February because of health issues rather than in opposition to Mr Pincher’s appointment, as reported by the Sunday Telegraph.

According to a statement issued by the Tory whips, Mr Whittaker said: “Following press speculation I want to clarify that I left the whips’ office in February 2022 due to health issues I was experiencing at the time.”

The fresh claims about Pincher reignited concerns about standards in Westminster after a string of Conservative MPs faced sexual misconduct claims.

In May, Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting viewing pornography in the Commons chamber. A month earlier, then-Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed for 18 months for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. The Conservatives lost both by-elections that followed.

A third unnamed Tory MP has been told by whips to stay away from Parliament after being arrested on suspicion of rape and other offences.

In a statement, Pincher said he would “co-operate fully” with the investigation.

“As I told the Prime Minister, I drank far too much on Wednesday night, embarrassing myself and others, and I am truly sorry for the upset I caused,” he continued.

“The stresses of the last few days, coming on top of those over the last several months, have made me accept that I will benefit from professional medical support.

“I am in the process of seeking that now, and I hope to be able to return to my constituency duties as soon as possible.”