Minister forced to apologise for criticising Dominic Grieve at despatch box

Dominic Grieve speaks at a People's Vote rally in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA.

Dominic Grieve speaks at a People's Vote rally in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Tory minister James Duddridge has been forced to apologise at the despatch box after he took a swipe at former Tory MP Dominic Grieve in the House of Commons.

Responding to a question from Grieve's replacement, the new Conservative MP for Beaconsfield Joy Morrissey, Duddridge said: "I don't know the honourable lady well, but it is already a great improvement."

Pro-European Grieve was stripped of the Tory whip after trying to stop the possibility of a no-deal Brexit last year and stood in the general election as an independent.

Former chairman of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee, Hilary Benn, was visibly upset by Duddridge's comment and could be seen shaking his head from the opposition benches.

Sir Keir Starmer later criticised Duddridge and urged him to "correct the record".

James Duddridge. Photograph: House of Commons.

James Duddridge. Photograph: House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

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He said: "Can I dissociate myself strongly from the words of the minister about the former right honourable member for Beaconsfield who had distinguished service in this House including as attorney general for the government.

"And I hope that there might be the opportunity just to correct the record on that."

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Later, Dudridge said: "Can I take the opportunity to say I have the utmost respect for the previous member for Beaconsfield. I was simply trying to say I found that particular line of questioning as a Government minister much more helpful to respond to.

"So I hope the House will take that as an apology to the previous member."

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