Diane Abbott demands apology over language debate

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for a “zero tolerance” approach to abuse and threats against MPs as he faced shadow home secretary Diane Abbott at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He took on PMQs in the place of Boris Johnson, who was delivering his headline speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

Ms Abbott rose to the dispatch box to call on Mr Raab to apologise on behalf of the Prime Minister for an exchange last week surrounding a question about abuse against MPs.

She said “many of the hundreds of abusive and violent messages” sent to her Labour colleague Paula Sherrif quote Mr Johnson's barbs.

“The Prime Minister dismissed these concerns as simply 'humbug'. Since that exchange my honourable friend has received four further death threats, some again quoting the Prime Minister's words,” she added.

Mr Raab did not apologise for the comment but said: “I think we should come together to be clear that there must be zero tolerance for any abuse or any threats.”

Ms Abbott went on to criticise the government for “letting women down”.

The Foreign Secretary responded: “On this side of the House we're proud to be on our second female Prime Minister.”

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has returned to the backbenches.

Theresa May was sat on the third row of the Conservative benches and appeared to give a wry smile at the mention of her while Labour MPs heckled Mr Raab.

He paid tribute to Mrs May for her work on dealing with human trafficking and violence against women but a cry of "you stabbed her in the back" could be heard from one opposition MP.

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