Labour claimed that Austin Mitchell had apologised to the Chief Whip:
“I looked through my list of incoming phone-calls, calls too from Conservative MPs demanding I apologise, but frankly I didn’t get them. Does anyone who has said anything critical on twitter have to apologise? I’m not going to say sorry, that would be silly, because I am not sorry. I don’t see a reason for the row frankly.”
He also went off on one about the use of the word rape saying the row was a “storm in a teacup”:
“I wanted to warn the government that AstraZeneca is going to be badly damaged if this take over goes through.”
I think it’s a word that is used in other contexts too and I think this row is frankly artificial… I think the storm is really a very defensive one by people who don’t like the takeover but dont think they can stop it so therefore they would rather turn the heat on something else.
I don’t think I am [trivialising rape] I think perhaps I am exaggerating the threat to the company, but it is a threat.”
Labour have reiterated tonight that Mitchell has apologised to the Chief Whip. We report, you decide.
UPDATE: Ed Balls has hardly helped things, saying that what Mitchell said was “stupid” and that he should apologise but defended him as “a character”: