PMQs: Dominic Raab and Angela Rayner clash over bullying claims
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Furious Tory MPs rallied around Dominic Raab today after Labour demanded Rishi Sunak “drain the swamp” and sack his deputy. Angela Rayner, who accused the Prime Minister of being “too weak to get a grip” and launched an onslaught against Mr Raab in the House of Commons this afternoon.
The Deputy Prime Minister – who stood in for Mr Sunak at PMQs while he attends a G20 summit – is facing allegations of bullying civil servants.
This morning, the Esher and Walton MP confirmed he has asked for an independent investigation to be launched into his actions after two formal complaints were made against him.
He said recruitment was already underway for a new ethics adviser to carry out a probe and that he was “confident” the allegations would not be upheld.
Raging against Mr Raab, Ms Rayner said: “No ethics, no integrity, and no mandate, and still no ethics adviser. So when will they appoint an independent ethics adviser and drain the swamp?” She added: “The Deputy Prime Minister knows his behaviour is unacceptable, so what is he still doing here?”
Tory MPs lashed out against the Labour deputy, accusing her of blaming Mr Raab before he had even been found guilty of wrongdoing.
North Dorset MP Simon Hoare asked: “Am I naive to still believe in that good British tradition that one is innocent until proven guilty?”
Meanwhile, North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed Labour itself had “a record of bullying second to none”.
He said: “A Labour member of Parliament left Parliament because of anti-semitic bullying, a distinguished BBC journalist needed bodyguards at Labour Party Conferences, and a current member of the Labour Party was suspended from the service of this House for bullying.”
The former Cabinet minister added the complaints from Ms Rayner were “at the very least hypocritical”.
Just four weeks after taking office Mr Sunak has already accepted the resignation of Cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson over allegations of bullying.
As well as now demanding the Prime Minister sack Mr Raab, the Opposition has also called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to be removed from office after claims her response to the migrant crisis broke the ministerial code.
Warning of a concerted effort against ministers doing their jobs, Ashfield MP Lee Anderson asked in the Commons this afternoon: “We have a brilliant Home Secretary, but the Deputy Prime Minister will be aware of a wicked and vicious bullying campaign led by the Opposition to get her sacked over the past four weeks or so.
“So can the Deputy Prime Minister please reassure me and the people of Ashfield that the House Secretary will be given all the tools that she needs to solve the migrant crisis and keep the bully boys out of No10.”
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Mr Raab replied: “We fully support the Home Secretary, the important measures she’s taking, whether it’s the Rwanda scheme, whether it’s implementing the Nationality and Borders Act, and whether it’s the new deal with France to make sure that we collaborate with our international partners on what is a shared issue, and the one thing that he can also rest assured is it will be opposed tooth and nail by the Labour Party opposite.”
No10 spokeswoman said Mr Sunak will appoint an “independent” investigator to examine the complaints made against Mr Raab.
The Prime Minister will select the person to carry out the fact-finding exercise in the absence of a permanent ministerial ethics watchdog.
But they added he will not be obliged to accept the findings of any report produced by the investigator as the Prime Minister remains the “ultimate arbiter” of the ministerial code.
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