Election 2024: Rules on betting by politicians could be reviewed by parliament, says Sunak after scandal

Parliament "always has the opportunity" to re-examine the rules on betting for politicians, Rishi Sunak has said, following calls for a ban similar to that for footballers.

The prime minister said gambling on elections was "not something I would do" as he argued the immediate priority was to establish any wrongdoing.

He also repeated his threat to "boot" people out of the Conservative Party found to have broken the rules.

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Mr Sunak made his comments in response to the ongoing gambling scandal that has engulfed the Tory campaign and added to his election woes.

Five Conservatives have so far been caught up in the inquiry by the Gambling Commission, although reports suggest the figure could be 15 parliamentary candidates and officials, although the watchdog has not confirmed the numbers involved.

At least seven Metropolitan Police officers are also being investigated.

It comes after Sky News revealed Mr Sunak's most senior adviser in Downing Street, Liam Booth-Smith, has been interviewed as part of the regulator's probe, although sources stressed he was spoken to as a witness and was not a suspect.

Serious consequences

Mr Sunak said: "I think the Gambling Commission is the body that is rightly placed to investigate any wrongdoing, I've been crystal clear that they should do that and they should make sure that anyone who has broken any rules should face the full consequences of the law - I will ensure they're kicked out of the Conservative Party.

"In parallel with that, we've conducted our own internal inquiries when we've been made aware of things and taken action to suspend two candidates."

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On election betting by politicians, he added: "It's not something I would do, the rules that govern MPs' conduct and behaviour is something that parliament decides and committees decide, and clearly that's something parliament always has the opportunity to look at in the future.

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Earlier, SNP leader John Swinney said: "I don't think that people who are involved in politics should bet on the outcome of elections.

"We are in an individual sense, we have knowledge that we acquire as we go around election campaigning, that obviously can inform our judgments better than most other people who won't perhaps know what is going on.

"I think there is an analogy to be made here with footballing where footballers are not allowed to bet on games with which they are involved, and I think the same should apply to politics."

He added: "Just for the record, I haven't placed any bets, never have done in politics, and I don't think people should do so."

Call for gambling rules review

Under FA gambling rules, tightened up in 2014 to crack down on match-fixing, all professional footballers are subject to a blanket ban on placing bets, with the ultimate threat of a lifetime ban from the sport.

They are also prohibited from passing on inside information to someone else, which they then use for betting.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, who has admitted to placing two wagers on his party winning previous elections, called for a review of all the gambling regulations in relation to politics because there was a need for "greater clarity and transparency".

His Scottish counterpart Alex Cole-Hamilton has said he had placed small wagers on the outcome of some seats on 4 July, but argued it was very different from insider betting and was simply "showing confidence" in his friends.

The Tories have already withdrawn support for two candidates who are being investigated over betting on the timing of the general election, while two top party officials have taken leave of absence.

A Conservative member of the Senedd has also stepped back from the shadow cabinet in the Welsh parliament after being placed under investigation.

Separately, Labour have suspended a candidate for betting on himself to lose the seat he was fighting.