The home secretary’s date rape joke was “misogynistic” and “very ill-judged”, a senior Conservative MP has told Sky News.

James Cleverly apologised after making an “ironic joke” about putting a date rape drug in his wife’s drink, hours after the Home Office announced plans to crack down on spiking.

He has faced calls to resign, but Downing Street has said Rishi Sunak “considers the matter closed” following his apology.

Asked about the comment, Tory MP Dame Caroline Dinenage told Sky News: “I think it was a very ill-judged comment. But I mean, I think James has owned that comment and apologised.

“I think he understands and actually anybody who follows James on social media will see how deeply in love with his wife he is and what a wonderful relationship they have.

“So you know, I think that he’s apologised, let’s move on.”

‘We all say things we regret’

When pressed on whether, given his role, he should be making such comments, Dame Caroline said it was an “off the cuff, silly remark” which she is sure he “completely regrets”.

Dame Caroline, who is chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee and a member of the Women and Equalities Committee, added: “I mean, we all say things that we regret.

“[It was] very ill-judged and you know, it was a misogynistic comment. But let’s hope that he’s learned that and that we can move on.

“It shouldn’t supersede all the really important stuff that the Home Office needs to get to grips with.”

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Calls for Cleverly to quit

Mr Cleverly made the comments during a private conversation at a Number 10 reception last week.

The home secretary told female guests “a little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night” was “not really illegal if it’s only a little bit”, the Sunday Mirror reported.

Mr Cleverly also joked that the secret to a long marriage was ensuring your spouse was “someone who is always mildly sedated so she can never realise there are better men out there”.

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Conversations at Downing Street receptions are usually understood to be off the record, so not for quoting and attributing the source, but the Sunday Mirror decided to break that convention because of Mr Cleverly’s position and the subject matter.

Allies of the minister said his comments were made in a private setting but he recognises they were inappropriate.

A spokesman for the home secretary said: “In what was always understood as a private conversation, James, the home secretary tackling spiking, made what was clearly meant to be an ironic joke – for which he apologises.”



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