Theresa May gets regular updates on MPs’ sexual indiscretions known as “the ins and outs” briefing. See Sunday Times
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) October 28, 2017
UK television viewers were primed for it, all the way back in the early 1990s, when a scene in the original House of Cards TV series showed Francis Urquhart (played by Ian Richardson) blackmailing another member of his Parliamentary party, who had committed a sexual indiscretion, into voting a particular way in the House of Commons.
And former Tory whip Tim Fortescue spoke out about the practice in 1995:
BBC 1995: Whips have been known to use blackmail to keep MPs in line for decades. Tim Fortescue spoke of "scandels with small boys". pic.twitter.com/IEtNvepHsO
— 3.5% – "I Daniel Blake" ≥ 🧢 (@Unicorn_999) October 29, 2017
And Diane Abbott – the victim of more online personal abuse than all other current MPs put together – has said that Westminster has long harboured a culture of sexual harassment:
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) October 29, 2017
We know that Mrs May has these weekly reports. We know she does not punish MPs whose names are contained in these reports. And we know that she is in a very difficult position, at the head of a minority government that could be toppled at any time by a rebellion from her own benches.
Given that we know all these things, are we not entitled to know what she does with the information in these reports?
Mr Crabb – a man who once claimed that homosexuality is “curable” – has been accused of “sexting” a woman after he rejected her application for a job in his office.
And Mr Garnier allegedly called his female secretary “sugar tits”, and gave her money to buy two vibrators at a sex shop in Soho – standing outside the store while she did it.
Click on their names (highlighted above) for the full stories if you haven’t read them.
As Mr Garnier is a minister for international trade, an investigation has been launched into whether he has breached the Ministerial Code. This Writer has no doubt that he will be found not to have done so – partly because I can’t find anything in the Ministerial Code covering sexism and/or sexual indiscretions, and partly because the ultimate judge in such cases in the prime minister – Theresa May.
And it seems likely she already knew about Mr Garnier’s behaviour via the weekly “Ins and Outs” report.
Let us remember: Blackmail is a crime. It would be inappropriate for me, or anyone else, to accuse the prime minister of engaging in such an activity without evidence.
That being said, given the information available, we are well within our rights to ask whether she has received information about ministers who have been implicated in inappropriate sexual activities – and what she has done with it.
Perhaps Mr Corbyn could ask her about it, at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
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