'We all make mistakes': Senior Tory defends Bradley, Rudd and Leadsom

A senior Conservative has defended a trio of ministers who have been criticised for recent comments, saying "we all make mistakes".

James Cleverly, a deputy party chairman, told Sky News that Karen Bradley, Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom were all guilty of a "slip of the tongue" and should not lose their jobs.

Ms Bradley, who is Northern Ireland secretary, said she was "profoundly sorry" for saying killings by the military and police during the Troubles "were not crimes".

Ms Bradley said her "slip of the tongue at the wrong moment" had caused "enormous distress" and added: "I want to be very clear - I do not believe what I said, that is not my view."

Ms Rudd said she was "mortified" after referring to Labour frontbencher Diane Abbott as "coloured" during a radio interview.

Mrs Leadsom, meanwhile, was criticised for her response to a request for a parliamentary debate on Islamophobia.

The Commons leader told Labour MP Naz Shah, who had made the request, that a debate to "discuss with Foreign Office ministers" whether the UK should seek a definition of Islamophobia "would be a useful way forward".

When asked if any of them should resign, Mr Cleverly told Sky's All Out Politics: "No. What they've done in each case is they've made a slip of the tongue and they have apologised immediately, both for what they've said and any offence caused by what they've said.

"I think that is the appropriate response."

He added that "we all make mistakes, sometimes at work", but it is "how you respond to those mistakes" that is important.

Former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi, who is calling for an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, tweeted that her party had "finally" got "equality right" by being "equally offensive to everyone".

Ms Shah has called for an apology from Mrs Leadsom and called on Prime Minister Theresa May to "publicly distance" herself from the comments.

In a letter to Mrs May, she said: "This comment exposes profound ignorance of race issues at the top of government. This is not a trivial matter.

"In the face of rising hate crime and an emboldened far-right movement here in Britain, how can the government hope to combat racism when its own ministers seem to lack an understanding of the ways in which it manifests itself?"