Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has hit out after reports of MPs drunk on a trip in Gibraltar were branded ‘a smear’ by the SNP. Mr Wallace to Iain Dale on LBC that the allegations opposition MPs were drunk during an Armistice Day visit to British forces in Gibraltar has been “passed up the chain of command.” He argued that the SNP MPs’ failure to own up to the incident risked leaving British service personnel with a “bad taste.”
Mr Dale told the Defence Secretary: “Three MPs have been accused, one labour two SNP, have been accused of being very, very drunk on the plane on that trip.
“You’ve been accused of conducting a disgusting smear.”
Mr Wallace replied: “We have people that accompany MPs on the Armed Forces scheme, they go with them or they accompany them or they’re on the same plane with them.
“So this is I mean, I think it’s very telling the SNPs response to this is smear because it actually lets them down you know, leaders have obligations.
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“I have an obligation to my ministerial team and my colleagues and you know, when I get reports from serving personnel who witnessed behaviour, you know, my duty is to not only defend that personnel, who by the way, get put in a very difficult position when MPs behave that way, to make sure that I bring to light the leaders of those parties that the behaviour is unacceptable, ” he continued,
“So there’s no smear nothing made up.
“In fact, the report didn’t come from me they originally came from the personnel who were concerned about it and raise it up the chain of command.
The Defence Secretary added the episode had left a bad taste in the mouth of British Armed Forces personnel.
He said: “I asked to verify just to make sure I didn’t indulge in gossip or anything else.
“And that’s the fact and I think actually, this goes back to your earlier point that MPs need some integrity, right?
“You know, what, what those guys should do is put their hands up and say, you know, what, we’re out of line we were… whatever could come with all sorts of reasons.
“But fundamentally, we apologise for any inconvenience that happened, rather than jump into a political sort of allegation of smear, which actually is… it just makes the whole thing worse, and what it does is leave a nasty aftertaste in the men and women of the armed forces, who know exactly what happened on that time.
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“And we’ll realise that actually didn’t get any integrity from the SNP any more than anyone else.”
The SNP however said whole incident raised serious questions about the conduct of Mr Wallace in the original attempt at “silly political point scoring”.
An SNP spokesman said: “Ben Wallace must apologise for abusing his role as UK Defence Secretary to attack other parties ahead of Armistice Day.”
“In a botched attempt to divert media attention from the Tory sleaze scandal, Mr Wallace has only raised further questions about the behaviour of his own Tory MPs. This bungling boomerang attack has left Mr Wallace with egg all over his face and serious questions to answer about his judgment.”
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