Minister rejects Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ‘snowflake’ jibe aimed at alleged bullying victims

A minister has rejected claims by Jacob Rees-Mogg that those levelling bullying allegations at Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab are “snowflakes”.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan took aim at the former Business Secretary amid reports that more senior civil servants have given evidence to Adam Tolley KC, the lawyer leading the probe into Mr Raab’s conduct.

Asked about Mr Rees-Mogg’s remarks, she told Sky News on Wednesday: “I don’t agree with that. I mean, bullying is very serious and actually as the education minister, one of the things that really is worrying in schools is bullying and online as well the the sort of way that bullying can spiral online is is awful.

“So I don’t agree with that. Bullying is wrong and people should not bully anybody.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is coming under pressure to sack Mr Raab following eight formal complaints over alleged bullying during his time in charge of three different Government departments - the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Office and the Department for Exiting the EU (DEXEU).

Dominic Raab insisted he has always ‘behaved professionally’ (PA Wire)
Dominic Raab insisted he has always ‘behaved professionally’ (PA Wire)

The BBC reported on Wednesday that the former Permanent Secretary at DEXEU, Sir Philip Rycroft, had become the third top senior official to give evidence to Mr Tolley’s investigation.

The focus on Mr Raab has intensified after former Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi was sacked following the storm over his tax affairs and raised questions over Mr Sunak’s pledge to lead a government of integrity.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have urged Mr Sunak to suspend Mr Raab while he is under investigation.

Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday Mr Rees-Mogg said it is ”completely sensible" for Mr Raab to remain as Mr Sunak's deputy, and Justice Secretary, while under investigation.

He added: "I think we've got to be slightly careful about the bullying allegations.

"We mustn't be too snowflakey about it. People need to be able to say this job has not been done well enough and needs to be done better.”

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union representing senior civil servants, said: “Even by Rees-Mogg's standards this is outrageous.

“A former leader of the House trivialising bullying that we know has ruined lives and careers.

“Not only should he be ashamed of himself but his leader and party should distance themselves from this."

Asked whether she was comfortable sitting around the Cabinet table with colleagues accused of bullying, Ms Keegan said: “I feel very comfortable with my colleagues around the Cabinet table.”

She added: “I think it's only fair when somebody accuses somebody of something that you go through a fair process. I think that is the right thing to do. And then the Prime Minister and Dominic will obviously discuss that and make make the right decision based on that.”