Angela Rayner says Raab knows ‘misery caused by thugs’ as she accuses him of anti-social behaviour

‘Does he think more bullies will be brought to justice?’ asks deputy Labour leader

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 29 March 2023 17:03 BST
'Will he walk before he's pushed?': Rayner grills Raab over rape prosecution rates

Angela Rayner accused deputy prime minister Dominic Raab of anti-social behaviour as she poked fun at the Tory government’s attempted crackdown on thugs.

Labour’s deputy leader mocked the justice secretary over the investigation into bullying allegations made against him during a feisty clash at PMQs.

“The deputy prime minister knows first-hand the misery caused by thugs and their intimating behaviour, lurking with menace and exploding in fits of rage, creating a culture of fear and even throwing things,” she said.

Ms Rayner added: “So under his new anti-social behaviour [plan], does he think more bullies will be brought to justice?”

Mr Raab – standing in for Rishi Sunak as the PM and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attended former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd’s funeral – replied: “I can assure House I have never called anyone scum.”

Ms Rayner was heavily criticised for comments about “Tory scum” at the Labour conference, for which she later “unreservedly” apologised.

She challenged Mr Raab over his alleged behaviour towards staff while the government tries to tackle anti-social behaviour, saying: “[It’s] not just his department where anti-social behaviour is running out of control, it’s happening across the country.”

With the independent probe into claims against Mr Raab set to report soon, Ms Rayner joked that it “might be his last PMQs” before asking: “Will he walk before he’s pushed?”

Mr Raab accused his Labour rival of “the bluster of political opportunism”, adding: “If she is serious about standing up for communities and people who suffer at the scourge of anti-social behaviour, she’d back our plan to deal more swiftly with these issues.

“And if they really want to protect the public they’ll back our plans for parole reform to make sure that murderers, that terrorists, that child killers are not allowed out free to threaten other people and reintroduce the ministerial veto that that side took away.”

But Ms Rayner said the Conservatives were “missing in action in the fight against crime” – pointing to figures showing there are now 6,000 fewer neighbourhood police officers after 13 years of the Tory government.

Mr Raab said Ms Rayner “really does have a brass neck” because Labour voted against our funding of police recruitment and the 20,000 extra police officers.

Dominic Raab was grilled by Angela Rayner at PMQs
Dominic Raab was grilled by Angela Rayner at PMQs (Parliament TV)

Mr Raab faced calls from Labour to apologise to rape victims because of his “failures” as justice secretary, with Ms Rayner citing statistics showing only “1.6 per cent of rapists faced being charged for their crime”.

She added: “He has served under five Tory prime ministers and had three years as justice minister and on his watch, rapists are left to roam the streets. So will he apologise to those victims who will never get justice because of his failures?”

Mr Raab responded that tackling rape is “one of our top priorities”, citing statistics showing improvement on referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and charges.

“Since 2019 police referrals of cases have doubled, CPS charges have doubled, she asks on my watch what has happened, the volume of convictions in rape cases has increased by two-thirds.”

“They are talking a good game... in fact, we have quadrupled funding for victims since 2010,” Mr Raab added. “She should get her facts straight, particularly when talking about such a sensitive issue.”

Mr Raab has denied bullying and insisted he had “behaved professionally throughout” – but said that he would resign if an allegation of bullying was upheld by Adam Tolley KC’s probe.

Mr Sunak ordered the investigation in November after coming under pressure following numerous allegations across several departments – including claims that Mr Raab was so demeaning to junior colleagues that many were “scared” to enter his office.

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