‘I will of course pay any tax that is due,’ says Conservative backbencher
A Conservative MP is facing bankruptcy action over unpaid taxes, leaving open the possibility of another by-election if he is forced to stand down.
It has emerged that HMRC has filed a petition for bankruptcy against Tory MP Adam Afriyie in a dispute related to “past business interests”.
Any MP who is declared bankrupt must step aside under parliamentary rules – sparking concern among some Conservatives that Mr Afriyie may have to step aside in his Windsor seat.
The backbencher’s spokesperson said he is challenging the HMRC’s petition and hoped the matter could still be resolved without bankruptcy.
Mr Afriyie, who has held his seat since 2005, vowed: “I will of course pay any tax that is due.”
A spokesperson for the MP said: “The petition arises for complex reasons related to Adam’s past business interests. Negotiations have been ongoing for several years and the petition is subject to legal challenge as his advisers are working towards reaching an agreement.”
Mr Afriyie set up the IT firm Connect Support Services in 1993. But the firm went into insolvency in 2017 – having reportedly substantial mounted up debts with HMRC.
Connect Support Services is the lead creditor in Mr Afriyie’s bankruptcy case, according to The Guardian, which first reported on the HMRC’s petition.
It comes as Boris Johnson’s party faces a series of by-elections across the south of England and Midlands in the months ahead.
There will be a contest in North Shopshire following Owen Paterson’s stunning resignation last week in the wake of the debacle which saw the government U-turn on plans to save him from suspension.
Another byelection will be held in Old Bexley and Sidcup following Conservative MP James Brokenshire’s death from cancer last month.
There is also the prospect of a by-election in in Leicester East, after MP Claudia Webbe was convicted of harassment and given a suspended jail sentence.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for Webbe – who has been sitting as an independent – to stand down. “If she doesn’t we will support a recall petition,” he said on Sunday.
The mainstream opposition parties have all said they will not contest the by-election in Southend West following the killing of Conservative MP David Amess last month out of respect for his memory.