Bad joke about his wife and rape drugs: it’s a storm over an English minister

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By John

The secret to a long marriage? “Make sure the wife is always a little sedated, so that she never realizes that there are better men out there». Because deep down, «a little Rohypnol», the most widespread rape drug, «in your drink every night is not entirely illegal, if it’s just a little».

Already very serious words, and of extreme squalor. But what do they do when pronounced by a UK minister in the historic rooms of 10 Downing Street? a political case and a scandal for British public opinion and beyond, while the world struggles to free itself from the plague of gender violence. And they risk further sinking the Tories, already in a crisis of consensus. Cleverly’s statements were revealed, given at a reception in the prime minister’s residence Rishi Sunakwas the Mirror, provoking a wave of criticism and calls for the minister’s resignation absurdly decided to joke about the rape drug just a few hours after announcing a crackdown on the growing spread of this crime, known in English as ‘spiking’.

In the 12 months to May, almost 6,800 crimes where this substance was used were reported in the UK. Cleverly’s spokesperson dismissed the comments as an “ironic joke” in a private conversation, for which the minister however apologized. But it was not enough to avoid controversy, also fueled by the prime minister’s decision not to take any action against his head of the Interior, since he “considers the issue closed”.

According to the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, «It is truly incredible that the Interior Minister made such appalling jokes on the very same day that the government announced a new crackdown on spiking. This suggests that, despite being the minister responsible for combating violence against women and girls, he does not understand how serious this situation is.” “It is vital that spiking survivors see ministers treat the issue seriously and not downplay it”, commented the NGO Women’s Aid which assists women victims of abuse, while another organisation, the Fawcett Society, called on Cleverly to resign: «How can we trust him to seriously tackle violence against women and girls? It’s disgusting that the minister responsible for ensuring women’s safety thinks something as terrifying as drugging women is a laughing matter.” James Cleverly is no stranger to embarrassing gaffes. Only in November did the minister become the protagonist of a controversy due to a very vulgar speech made in the House of Commons, in which was accused of calling the English town of Stockton a “shithole”.. He defended himself by claiming that he had been misunderstood, and that he had actually said “shit” to the Labor MP Alex Cunningham. In any case, much less serious words than the latest out-of-place statement which further sinks the Tories into haemorrhaging consensus in favor of Labour, as the 2024 electoral appointments approach. In the vote – expected in the autumn at the latest – the Conservatives risk a debacle, with polls that have long predicted a crushing defeat and tell of a stratospheric gap from the Labor Party, while in 2023 the Conservatives have never managed to exceed 29 %: if the data were confirmed at the polls, it would be their worst result ever.