Jacob Rees-Mogg says people are getting 'snowflaky' about bullying allegations levelled at government ministers

Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned that people are getting "a bit snowflaky" about bullying allegations levelled at government ministers.

The former cabinet minister told Sky News individuals should be "careful" when talking about accusations involving those including Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

"I think we've got to be slightly careful about the bullying allegations," the senior Conservative MP said.

"We mustn't be too snowflaky about it.

"People need to be able to say this job has not been done well enough and needs to be done better.

"It's a very difficult line to judge. It's not a straightforward issue in most cases. It's how did somebody react, what did somebody say, is it reasonable to demand from senior and well-paid professionals a level of good service?

"And then you have to judge whether that line has been overstepped. But I do worry we are getting a bit snowflakey about this."

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Mr Rees-Mogg added that it is "completely sensible" for Mr Raab to remain in his position while the investigation into his conduct continues.

Mr Rees-Mogg's comments were condemned by a civil service union chief.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, 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."

Adam Tolley KC is investigating the bullying allegations against Mr Raab, with reports suggesting at least 24 civil servants have raised complaints about his conduct.

The first claims against the deputy PM emerged in The Guardian and relate to his stint at the Ministry of Justice between September 2021 and September 2022 under Boris Johnson.

Around 15 senior civil servants in his private office had been offered "respite or a route out" after his return was announced, the newspaper said, due to concerns some were still traumatised from working for him.

Multiple MoJ sources also said he had previously created a "culture of fear" in the department, alleging he was "very rude and aggressive", adding: "[He] wasn't just unprofessional, he was a bully."

A spokesperson for the department said there was "zero tolerance for bullying across the civil service".

Hours later, a report in The Sun claimed he had thrown tomatoes from his salad at staff.

Another in The Mirror said he had been given the nickname "The Incinerator" because of how quickly he "burns through" employees.

A spokesman for the deputy PM dismissed the salad attack claim as "complete nonsense" and denied a high turnover of staff in his departments.

There have also been allegations about Mr Raab's behaviour when he was Brexit secretary in 2018 and during his time as foreign secretary, between July 2020 and September 2021.

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The Times newspaper has today reported that a permanent secretary who worked under Mr Raab - Lord McDonald of Salford, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office - has given evidence to Mr Tolley, as a witness.

Mr Raab has said he has "never tolerated bullying" and promised to "cooperate fully" with the investigation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said it is "right that these matters are investigated fully".

Downing Street would not be drawn on whether the PM was told about informal complaints made against Mr Raab before appointing him as deputy PM.

"I wouldn't get into the process of appointments or the advice the prime minister receives or does not receive," the spokesman said.

"The prime minister had the requisite information to make his appointment, which followed the usual process."

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But the Liberal Democrats have called on the PM to suspend Mr Raab while the investigation into his conduct takes place.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: "The reported scale of the allegations against Dominic Raab raises real questions for Rishi Sunak. Why hasn't the prime minister suspended Raab yet, for the duration of this inquiry?

"Rishi Sunak promised to govern with integrity but I'm afraid his track record so far is the opposite.

"Scandal after scandal continues to emerge about various members of the cabinet, yet Sunak is incapable of doing the right thing and taking decisive action."