WATCH: Cabinet ministers tear into 'appalling' Tory backbencher Christopher Chope for blocking FGM crackdown

Posted On: 
10th February 2019

Two more Cabinet ministers have unleashed their anger on Tory backbencher Sir Christopher Chope after he blocked a Commons bid to crack down on female genital mutilation.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury said she was "absolutely appalled" after the Christchurch MP killed off an amendment to the 1989 Children Act that would have allowed courts to issue protection orders over children thought to be at risk of FGM.

And Shadow Housing Secretary James Brokenshire branded the move "really shocking".

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Sir Christopher - who previously came under fire for blocking a bill toughening up laws on intrusive upskirt photos - shouted "object" when the Government-supported bid came before the Commons on Friday, halting its legislative progress.

The move led to public condemnation from Cabinet ministers Matt Hancock and Sajid Javid, while Labour demanded that the MP have the Tory whip removed.

Joining the chorus of criticism, Liz Truss told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "This is an action that harms the lives of girls. This is happening in our country in the 21st century. I find that appalling.

"And we need to do much, much more to stop it. And when I see one of my colleagues opposing a measure that could have saved girls' lives,  could have saved girls from that horrendous experience, I am absolutely appalled by that."

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said she would be "speaking to" Sir Christopher - who has long objected to the use of private members' bills for government business - this week.

But she stopped short of endorsing calls for him to have the whip withdrawn, saying fellow Tories instead needed to "put peer pressure on our colleagues who are stopping these types of things happening".

"I want to see him change his mind," she said. "I want to see the Conservative Party make sure that we show that this is completely unacceptable."

James Brokenshire, Shadow Communities Secretary, also upped the pressure on the Christchurch MP, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I think it’s really shocking on such a serious issue.

"Female genital mutilation is something we’ve got to confront, we’ve got to do more. It’s hugely disappointing that this bill was not allowed to proceed. That’s why we are now looking urgently to get government time for legislation to make this happen."

Asked whether he was proud to call the MP a colleague, Mr Brokenshire said: "I’m just hugely disappointed."

Nimco Ali, co-founder of the anti-FGM charity Daughters of Eve, meanwhile told the Observer that Sir Christopher should be kicked out of the Conservative Party over his string of controversial interventions.

"Senior cabinet ministers are saying what he’s done is completely unacceptable," she said.

"His local Conservative association is fed up with him. He should have the whip removed and be deselected and if they have a vote of no confidence over him, then I’d be more than happy to come and speak."