Tory MP attacks Labour for criticising Robert Jenrick ‘during a global pandemic’

PUBLISHED: 16:53 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:47 24 June 2020

Nicola Richards attacks the Labour Party in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Nicola Richards attacks the Labour Party in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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A Conservative MP has attacked Labour for criticising the actions of under-fire housing secretary Robert Jenrick “during a global pandemic”

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Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, told the Commons that it was wrong for the opposition to question Jenrick, at the centre of a row over his handling of a major property development involving a Tory Party donor, during the health crisis.

And she claimed that Labour wanted to focus on the minister’s actions to distract the public from Labour’s record on house-building.

She told MPs: “It’s clear that the opposition want to use this debate as a distraction from their own embarrassing record on house-building.

“My constituents in West Bromwich East want to see us building affordable homes. I’m not sure the opposition do.

“We’re taking action and we’re getting on with delivering for people, not dragging good ministers through the mud during a global pandemic.

“The housing secretary has already answered questions on this issue in the House and is publishing further papers today. Let the matter rest and let’s get back to serving the people we represent.”

Labour is seeking to force the government to release all documents relating to the controversial approval by Jenrick for the Westferry Printworks development in east London, which was submitted by former media mogul Richard Desmond.

Jenrick has faced accusations of “cash for favours” after it emerged the developer, ex-Daily Express owner Desmond, had personally given the Conservative Party £12,000 two weeks after the scheme for 1,500 homes was approved.

Jenrick has since had to quash his own approval, conceding the decision was “unlawful”.

But Business Secretary Alok Sharma, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today, defended Jenrick and called for a line to be drawn under the issue.

“I think the key thing is how you act and that you act in all propriety,” said Mr Sharma.

“And that is precisely what the housing secretary has done.

“He has answered questions on this and I really do think that should be the end of the matter.”

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