Tory housing minister was member of private Facebook group that called for workhouses for the poor and end to all council housing

Dominic Raab says he was not aware he was part of social media page that also proposed privatising the NHS

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Friday 16 February 2018 13:28 GMT
The MP for Esher and Walton said he does not support the aims of the right-wing group
The MP for Esher and Walton said he does not support the aims of the right-wing group (Getty)

Dominic Raab, the Conservative housing minister, was until this week a member of a private Facebook group that called for the return of workhouses and the sale of all council homes, it has emerged.

The group, called British Ultra Liberal Youth – The Ultras, had 14 members and advocated a number of contentious policies.

It called for the NHS to be privatised and said it would be “right” to introduce workhouses for people in debt.

The group was set up seven years ago and does not appear to have been active recently. Mr Raab said he was not aware he was a member and has now removed himself.

The page description claims Britain “has been shooting at its own feet for too long” and suggests “too much tolerance of socialism” has cost the country £1 trillion.

It tells members: “As a member of the British Ultra Liberal Youth aka The Ultras, you are free to remained [sic] aligned to the political party of your choice as long as it is the Conservative Party.”

Laying out the group’s objectives, it continues: “If this were a football field, we would be racing down the right wing so close to the touchline, we would be doing so very carefully making sure we don’t put our feet outside the field of play.

“While watching from the stands are an electorate unaware of liberalised life beyond council houses, free healthcare and social security can exist let alone work.

“As an Ultra, it is your duty to support and pressure the mainstream of the Conservative Party that such policies as: privatisation of healthcare, the sale of all council housing at market value and workhouses for debtors are right and have found their time to enter Britain.”

Mr Raab told Buzzfeed News: “I wasn’t aware of this group, let alone that I had inadvertently and mistakenly been linked on Facebook. I have corrected it and needless to say I do not support its aims.”

The group also lists as members current Tory MP Henry Smith and a former MP who lost her seat last year. Mr Smith’s office said he would not have joined the group himself.

Other members appear to have worked for the Conservatives or stood as candidates for the party.

Facebook says users can be added to a closed group if they are friends with someone already in the group. Anyone being added would receive a notification informing them they had joined.

Mr Raab, who was appointed as housing minister in the recent reshuffle, was criticised last week after advertising for an unpaid intern to work in his parliamentary office – just hours before the Government published plans to clamp down on unfair working practices.

In response, the former city lawyer said: “This is part-time work experience with commuter expenses paid, typically suited to a gap-year student. The role is not fixed, but designed to offer a range of experience of a parliamentary office.”

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