In his short tenure as my MP Rob Roberts has managed to make quite a name for himself. With an arrogant claim here, a misjudged comment there he has managed to put Delyn firmly on the map, drawing criticism from prominent political commentators on the ‘twitter-sphere’ and even going viral on one occasion – albeit for all the wrong reasons. Having again found himself in hot water, this time for much more serious allegations of inappropriate behaviour and abuses of power, is it time the people of Delyn deserve a better political representative in Westminster?
I have wrote about Rob Roberts before, in fact, his behaviour on twitter was one of the reasons why I felt compelled to start this blog and he was the subject of my first post. At this point he had gone viral for a tweet in which he compared the Covid-19 death rate in Italy to that of the UK, implying that the latter was doing an exceptional job at suppressing the virus. Sadly, it quickly became clear that this was not the case: the tweet reached the upper echelons of twitter’s political commentariat, was swiftly deleted and Rob Roberts went on a prolific blocking spree.
Although he is a newbie he is so on brand for the populist politics he represents: eager to be involved but, at least in my view, has but a cursory knowledge of the issues he tweets about. His election victory in 2019 has to be viewed through the wider prism of Brexit and the kick back this garnered towards the so called “political establishment” – in Flintshire, my county, 56% voted in favour of leaving the EU and in the European Elections the Brexit Party won with 38% of votes. After all, David Hanson had represented Delyn as a Labour MP for just shy of 30 years.
However, recently the scandals surrounding the MP have become more serious and extend further than ill thought-out tweets. Since his election win Rob Roberts had created strong links with the Tory youth group ‘Blue Beyond’, frequently chatting to their young activists on Twitter and appearing in numerous lockdown Zoom quizzes. Rob had actually managed to secure an impressive endorsement for Blue Beyond from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who praised the group and its founder Luke Black in a short video. However, texts later emerged showing Rob bragging about the David Cameron endorsement as a means to get closer to Blue Beyond’s founder Luke Black, stating “I’ve done some lovely things…let’s commit to going out at least 4 times…I deserve at least that”. The youth group quickly severed ties with the MP.
Fresh allegations are now mounting against the MP with calls for the whip to be removed, at least two complaints have been made about Rob to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. The first concerns a house of Commons employee, his own Parliamentary Researcher no less, who later left his position after rejecting Rob’s advances. Rob admitted his actions were “inappropriate” and said “the chief whip was involved”.
The second involves a former intern who was propositioned during a string of messages from the MP. In the messages sent back in April the MP mentions “some fun maybe, no strings” and “I might be gay but I enjoy…fun times”. Despite the intern stating she was having a “really really bad mental health day” the MP was too preoccupied with “thinking about fun times”.
Despite his short time in office Rob has managed scandal after scandal and his behaviour is predatory, unprofessional and frankly a disgrace. Many will attribute his success to a number factors: was it Brexit? was it Corbyn? was it a rejection of the establishment? Whatever it may be, I doubt those who wanted change would consider this behaviour a price worth paying.
I have to say, reading about these types of stories is never pleasant but when it is your own MP it does make it doubly sour. This issue is bigger than politics, this man represents no decent person in my constituency. For everyone’s sake he should do the right thing and resign.
With a parliamentary investigation ongoing I hope the Conservative Party do the right thing and remove his whip with immediate effect, or better yet just sack him. If no action is taken the party risks sending a very clear message that this type of behaviour is not only acceptable but that any attempt to call out such behaviour will simply fall on deaf ears.