Theresa May’s support for Toby Young made a “complete mockery” of her efforts to crackdown on sleaze and bullying in Westminster, according to a key Labour frontbencher.
Dawn Butler, who is Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary and a member of the cross-party working group on sexual harassment, claimed the Prime Minister’s public backing of Mr Young meant she wasn’t taking the issue seriously.
Mr Young was forced to resign from the board of university regulator the Office for Students after just a week in the role following public outcry over offensive and misogynistic articles and social media posts.
PM not serious
“It makes a complete mockery of everything the Prime Minister has said in regards to sexual harassment in my opinion. I know because I am on the committee,” Ms Butler said. “I am reading all of this evidence, I am reading what we have to do – that we have to call it out at every opportunity.
And she added: “What really disturbed me is how seriously the Prime Minister takes it.”
During a broadcast interview, Mrs May said she was “not impressed” by Mr Young’s previous comments but stopped short of sacking him.
Labour forced a debate on his appointment in the House of Comments on Monday, when the then universities minister Jo Johnson also defended the controversial journalist and author.
“If a Prime Minister is not impressed with an appointment in their name they should do something about it. All she did was endorse him, which shows extreme weakness for a PM. It worries me – this was a simple decision she could have made. She didn’t make it,” Ms Butler said.
Allies of Mr Young have accused the Labour frontbench of hypocrisy after Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said she would be “happy” to sit alongside Jared O’Mara, the Labour MP suspended by the party for a string of sexist and homophobic comments.
But Ms Butler said there was a “huge difference” between the two cases.
“I said very publicly that Jared O’Mara’s tweets were offensive, and they were in appropriate,” the MP for Brent Central said. “I have not made any excuses. Jared O’Mara has apologised on the floor of the House. He has apologised to the Parliamentary Labour Party. But the difference between Jared O’Mara and Toby Young is that Jared O’Mara was punished and Toby Young was promoted.”
Ms Butler also raised questions around the Prime Minister’s decision to publish a new ministerial code of conduct in the wake of the sleaze scandal, claiming she could have taken action without it.
“The code of conduct is fine, but she didn’t need it to take action. She could have done that without a new code. It highlights to me how weak the Prime Minister actually is,” she said.
A Tory source added: “This is rich coming from the woman who defended Jared O’Mara and the party who’s Shadow Chancellor has called for a serving female Cabinet Minister to be lynched.”
A Conservative party spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has been leading efforts to ensure that everyone who works in Parliament is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The Prime Minister condemned inappropriate comments that Mr. Young had made in the past when she became aware of them.”
Source : https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/dawn-butler-endorsing-toby-young-made-mockery-theresa-mays-sleaze-crackdown/626