LISTEN: Austin Mitchell’s LBC ‘Saying Rape is Fine’ Meltdown

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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”:

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Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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