Boris Johnson denies calling Tobias Ellwood a ‘c***’
Another week, another long seven days under Conservative rule.
This week got off to a tasteless start with the fallout from a sexist article triggering an examination of Westminster's unsavoury culture, and it got worse and worse with the government being found to have acted unlawfully (again) and Boris Johnson even accused of calling an MP a "c***".
Normal week, normal country.
Hold your nose and jump in, then, to the week that was in Tory Britain.
1. Tory MPs claim Angela Rayner used her legs to distract Boris Johnson
Last weekend,the Mail on Sunday published a truly odd story about deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, and it set the agenda for the week ahead. Politicians from across the political spectrum were quick to denounce the piece, which claimed Tory sources said Rayner uses her legs to distract the PM in the commons, and Tory whips are trying to find out who made the claim.
The journalist behind the story and the publication was criticised but they say they were just reporting what they had been told.
Johnson wrote on Twitter: “As much as I disagree with @AngelaRayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.”
Fifteen minutes later, Dorries wrote the exact same and got absolutely rinsed on social media for doing so, but when asked about it later, Tory MP Chris Philp brushed it off and showed it was evidence they "shared the same view".
3. Jacob Rees-Mogg leaves notes on desks of people who work from home
Taking a break from politicians to the civil service now and one of the unexpected consequences of the Covid pandemic was that it made employers realise working from home isn't that big of a deal. Some Tories are dead against it, though, including Rees-Mogg who has been running around Westminster like the worst Easter bunny ever and instead of leaving chocolate he is leaving passive-aggressive' notes to civil servants who aren’t at their desks.
An image of the note was posted on Twitter and reads: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.
“With every good wish, Rt. Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg M.P.”
He sounds like a fun guy to have at work drinks...
Jacob Rees-Mogg is leaving this note for civil servants who aren\u2019t at their desks\u2026pic.twitter.com/7KzBcGKVJP
"No," he said. "Let me just remind you of my golden rule, which is as a politician, certainly as prime minister, you’re better off talking about what people want you to do … than talking about other politicians or yourself.
5. Dominic Raab grins while discussing the cost of living crisis
That's how the PM is doing so what about the deputy PM? Well, in a very weird turn of events, it seemed Dominic Raab couldn't wipe the smile off his face during an interview about solutions to the cost of living crisis.
Sky News' Niall Paterson asked Raab: "Everyone yesterday at cabinet was asked to come up with some bright ideas for the cost of living crisis. I'm just wondering what yours were sitting at the head of the justice department?" as Raab grinned away.
"I don't comment on the detail of what we discuss in cabinet but I think there's a whole range of things that we are looking at," he said.
Dominic Raab can't stop smiling when asked what his bright idea was to tackle the cost of living crisis.\n\n#KayBurley #BBCBreakfastpic.twitter.com/YYnvwyaALo
He then appeared more formal as he discussed government packages including "rebates" on council tax and energy bills (they are more like loans) and said the cabinet had discussed measures to deal with childcare and housing at their meeting yesterday.
6. Boris Johnson makes hypocritical claims during PMQs
Back to Johnson. The PM made a hypocritical point when he attacked the Labour party for spending money on flags on Wednesday. He said the Labour council at Hammersmith spent £27,000 on EU flags (they were actually pro-EU banners to encourage European citizens to apply for settled status) but regardless of misunderstanding the story, his government has spent more than £163,000 on Union flags in the last two years across various government departments.
7. Government's Covid care homes policy ruled unlawful
Meanwhile, the government's past mistakes came back to haunt them and on Wednesday, the high court ruled that discharging untested patients into care homes in England without isolating them at the start of the Covid pandemic was illegal and "irrational".
Then health secretary Matt Hancock had said that “right from the start we have tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes”, but the result of this case may suggest otherwise.
The discharge policy was only changed on 15th April 2020 to require testing for discharges and 14-day isolation for new admissions from the community.
8. Tory MP accused of watching porn in parliament
With all that going on, the allegedly sexist and misogynistic culture of Westminster continued to ripple through the news and it was found that a Tory MP reportedly watched porn in the house of commons, while sitting next to a female minister
Tory Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris has escalated a review of the claims, after two MPs made the claim during a meeting this week.
It was later revealed that the whip had suspended Neil Parish, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, after he was named as the person accused of watching pornography in the Commons. To make matters worse he had even been on GB News this week to discuss the matter.
Parish has since resigned and claimed that he accidentally viewed the pornography after first looking at 'tractors.'
9. Minister gets the solution for sexism all wrong
So what can be done? When Ben Wallace told Times Radio that politicians should go home after the working day to reduce the “poisonous” culture of inappropriate and sexist behaviour in the commons that everyone was discussing this week, he probably thought he was being helpful.
Speaking of, remember Imran Ahmad Khan? The MP who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy? Upon the verdict, he said he was going to resign but it ended up taking him two and a half weeks to do so.
Khan told the Guardian he had submitted his resignation on Monday and that it was effective from 30th April. That also means he will be paid his salary in full for April.
Ahmad Khan insists he told the parliamentary authorities straight away but that there were delays because of the Easter bank holidays and then while he sorted out HR issues with his staff but other parliamentary sources told the paper that MPs can resign immediately and earlier this week. Labour leader Keir Starmer urged the disgraced MP to "get on with it".
11. Controversial elections bill passes
But politicians do more than say silly things, make awful mistakes. What would happen if we judged them by their policy decisions not their personal clangers? We'd be upset, that's what, because controversial elections bill got Royal assent this week meaning people will soon need ID to vote in elections.
Critics say this makes it disproportionately harder for demographics that favour opposition parties to vote, and therefore suppresses turnout and recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that low-income potential voters are six times less likely to have a photo ID than their wealthier counterparts.
Despite this backlash, the government say it will help prevent fraud.
12. Controversial nationality and borders bill passes
Another controversial bill got passed this week after weeks of it going back and forth between the commons and the lords. The bill, which includes offshoring asylum - handling claims at overseas facilities - and making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally, was passe despite numerous charities including Oxfam speaking out against it.
13. Tory MP implies Priti Patel needed to go to a Bond premier to learn about spies
While cooking up the bill, it looks like Priti Patel was gifted a cinema trip to see No Time To Die in September and went in her capacity as home secretary. Questioned by Labour MP Chris Bryant during a standards committee hearing about the gift she received from the Jamaican tourist board, MP Mark Spencer first said that he didn't know if there was "a large Jamaican population" in her constituency or not.
14. Nadine Dorries shows she isn't on top of her brief...again
Dorries became another MP to say a silly thing this week. Not learning from her previous terrible interviews, the culture secretary made another clanger on LBC this week by claiming Channel 5 was privatised a few years ago.
I love how @NadineDorries justifies privatising Channel 4 by claiming that Channel 5 was privatised 3 to 5 years ago. Channel 5 launched in 1997 as a private business as a result of a franchise auction but I guess you couldn\u2019t expect the Culture Secretary to know this pic.twitter.com/9kbQVHZM3t
If that wasn't bad enough, sea ports are also reportedly considering legal action against the government because of the delays, as they fear the systems they have prepared for the promised checks will never be used.
That's all, folks!
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