In Brief

Should Stephen Parkinson resign?

Theresa May’s political secretary under pressure after outing whistleblower

A senior aide to Theresa May is under pressure to stand down after outing a whistleblower as gay, allegedly putting his family in Pakistan in danger.

The Prime Minister’s political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, has said he had to reveal his relationship with Shahmir Sanni, who worked for the official Vote Leave campaign, because it was necessary to understand his denial of the allegations.

Sanni has accused Parkinson of funnelling £625,000 to an affiliated Brexit organisation, BeLeave, in violation of electoral law.

While senior Vote Leave figures who now work for Theresa May are facing questions over whether they broke election spending rules then tried to cover it up, it is Parkinson’s outing of Sanni that has led to calls he resign or be sacked.

Sanni has “heaped further pressure on the Government over the allegations by accusing Parkinson of trying to smear him”, says The Guardian.

“This weekend has been one of the most awful weekends for me,” he told ITV. “I didn’t want to talk about this at all because it is not relevant. The only reason that this was brought to light was just to make it seem that this was a vendetta, when it is not about me.”

The 24-year-old, who was in a relationship with Parkinson for 18 months, said his statement had forced him to come out to his family, and put his relatives in Pakistan, where homosexuality is criminalised, at risk of reprisals.

The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, has also called for Parkinson to resign and accused Downing Street of conspiring to reveal Sanni’s sexuality.

No. 10 said yesterday the Prime Minister has “full confidence” in her political adviser.

The weekend’s events have left Parkinson “on the brink”, says The Times. Tory MPs have told the paper they believed he would have to step aside during an inquiry.

“He’s up s**t creek as far as I can see,” one said. “It’s sad because he’s a nice guy but he can’t stay in Downing Street while this is swirling around.”

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