Damian Green, one of Theresa May's closest allies and a senior member of her cabinet has been sacked. An internal investigation revealed that the senior minister had made misleading comments about pornography on computers in his parliamentary office.
In October 2017, a social media campaign called Me Too (under the hashtag of the same name) went viral. The hashtag was used by millions of women across the world in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Weinstein, a powerful producer in Hollywood was accused of sexually harassing women and abusing them. It was originally created by activist Tarana Burke and Actress Alyssa Milano popularized the hashtag by asking her Twitter followers to talk about their own experience with sexual harassment. Since then, millions of people have used the hashtag to come forward with their experiences, including many celebrities. The scandal has resulted in women coming forward with claims of having been sexually harassed by some of the most powerful and popular celebrities in the world including actors like Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey.
Historically, politicians have often been implicated in sexual scandals. Over a dozen women have accused US President Donald Trump of sexually harassing them and abusing them. According to unauthorized biographer Kitty Kelley, former US President Ronald Reagan was accused of raping a woman in 1952.
Around the time, the Me Too campaign was going viral, a series of allegations alleging sexual harassment and assault against British politicians arose in October. A popular blog called Guido Fawkes blog published a spreadsheet that detailed alleged various sexual improprieties conducted by Conservative MPs. The list had reportedly been originally compiled by aides working for the parliamentarians. A total of 36 MPs from the Conservative Party were implicated.
The Labor Party has also been implicated in the ensuing scandal. Bex Bailey, a Labour Party activist and a former member of Labour's National Executive Committee came forward and said that she had been raped by a senior member of the Labour Party. She said, “It took me a while to summon up the courage to tell anyone in the party...But when I did, I told a senior member of staff, who told me...or it was suggested to me that I not report it, I was told that if I did it might damage me.” Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party responded by noting, “There will be no tolerance in the Labour Party for sexism, harassment or abuse...Whatever it takes, we are absolutely committed to rooting it out.”
Sir Michael Fallon became the first MP to step down from his position in the wake of the scandal. A journalist named Julia Hartley-Brewer said that over the course of a dinner in 2002, he kept inappropriately touching her knee. She is reported to have told him at the time that she would punch him in the face if he did that again.
Damian Green, one of Theresa May's closest allies and a senior member of her cabinet has been sacked. An internal investigation revealed that the senior minister had made misleading comments about pornography on computers in his parliamentary office. He is the third member of her cabinet who has had to step down due to a number of scandals in the past few months. In November 2017, Priti Patel, who was the Secretary of State for International Development, resigned from the position after details emerged of her having held secret meetings with Israeli officials during a holiday visit to the region in August 2017.
Green’s exit would have negative consequences to May’s agenda as he had consistently been among her most staunch allies. At a time when the Parliament has been deeply divided over Brexit, he often spoke in favor of the Prime Minister and tried to bridge differences.
The current controversy exploded after the Sunday Times newspaper reported that police in 2008 had found pornography in Green’s office computers in the Houses of Parliament. At the time he had stated that this story was inaccurate. However, an internal investigation noted that Green’s statements that he had been unaware of such an incident was “false and misleading.”
“I regret that I’ve been asked to resign from the government following breaches of the Ministerial Code, for which I apologise,” Green said in a letter to May. For her part, the Prime Minister in a statement noted that she accepted this resignation with deep regret.
Our assessment is that the series of controversies enveloping May’s administration will continue to negatively impact the Prime Minister’s agenda. May has lost one of his main allies in wake of Green’s resignation and this is likely to make Brexit talks even more difficult.