Conservative MP Adam Afriyie has been made bankrupt after a judge in a specialist court heard how he owed around £1.7m.
Judge Nicholas Briggs made a bankruptcy order against the MP for Windsor at an online hearing in the Insolvency and Companies Court on Tuesday.
The judge was told that Mr Afriyie owed about £1m to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and about £700,000 to Barclays.
Despite the bankruptcy order, Mr Afriyie insisted on Tuesday that he will not be standing down as an MP until the general election expected in 2024.
Under Commons rules, bankruptcies can disqualify MPs and even spark by-elections if the debt is not cleared within six months.
But an MP is only disqualified immediately if they receive a bankruptcy restrictions order – made if a person’s conduct is found to have been “dishonest, reckless or otherwise culpable”.
In a statement on Tuesday, he said: “It is a stressful time and it’ll be tough for a while, but I’m far from the only person in a difficult position, and I will continue to do my best to support my constituents until the next general election, when I’ll be standing down.”
The MP said his bankruptcy followed “business failures some time ago”, adding: “I am ultimately responsible for some of the bank borrowing through personal guarantee. I’ve been trying to sell our home and downsize for some time, but it’s a tough market.”
In May, another judge approved a plan for Mr Afriyie to sell a property. The Windsor MP, who did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, had written asking for more time to sell the property.
The Tory backbencher wanted proceedings adjourned until March and said he could pay off his debts in full if the property was sold.
Representatives of HMRC and Barclays had given the judge detail of how much was owed and opposed an adjournment.
Judge Briggs concluded: “There have been six hearings already of this matter so time really has run out. I shall make a bankruptcy order.
He added: “It seems to me there is no evidence of there being any reasonable prospects of paying debts in full.”
Barrister Fiona Whiteside, who represented Barclays, said the bank had “lost patience” over the debt, and added: “We have seen no credible evidence that the property will be sold any time soon.”
Mr Afriyie, who is aged in his 50s, was elected back in 2005. News of possible bankruptcy proceedings involving Mr Afriyie first emerged in late 2019.
The MP 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.