On 21 November, Labour’s Yvette Cooper – chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee – questioned immigration minister Caroline Nokes. But Nokes got her ‘facts’ completely wrong. And her responses were perhaps some of the most chilling from a Tory MP ever.
The session was part of an ongoing inquiry into “serious defects” with accommodation for asylum seekers. Cooper questioned Nokes about the appalling conditions of some homes following a “damning” report in July. And she tried to establish if anyone from the Home Office had taken any steps to resolve the issue. But Nokes denied having the relevant information to follow this up and blamed NGOs for not knowing or revealing where some of the worst houses were. So Cooper offered to help and said:
This afternoon we will ask what property this is and we would be grateful if somebody could go and visit and make sure that we… don’t still have seven mothers with children under two years old, months after this report was done, still living in this terrible rodent-infested accommodation.
When challenged about why she’d not followed this up, Nokes got more defensive, claiming that she wasn’t ‘telepathic’. And her icy words were matched by her body language as she got more confrontational.
But it didn’t stop there.
Tory ice queen
Later in the session, Cooper announced that the Home Office already had the relevant information, and that it was happy to provide it again if Nokes and her team “have somehow lost this information”. She continued:
To be honest, minister, you didn’t need telepathy; all you needed was a telephone in order to be able to ring up and find this information.
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Nokes replied “I would be very pleased to receive it”. But her tone and delivery was possibly the most chilling thing any Tory has ever demonstrated in public.
Caroline Nokes, humiliated in committee. pic.twitter.com/uV1BK7Kas5
— Robert (@RobDunsmore) November 22, 2018
Many people have known for a long time that there’s nothing but contempt and bile behind many Tory ministers’ fake smiles and soft voices. But with this latest performance, we’ve just seen the mask slip yet again.
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