Tory MP Tim Loughton apologises after criticising Sarah Teather for failing to "produce" a family

Former education minister claimed the Lib Dem MP was a poor families minister because she "didn't produce one of her own".

Update: Loughton has belatedly apologised, while still bizarrely claiming that his comments were misrepresented by the media.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton's repugnant suggestion that Sarah Teather was a poor families minister because she failed to "produce" one of her own has rightly been greeted with outrage. The Telegraph reports that the former Tory education minister told last weekend's Conservative Renewal conference:

The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she doesn't really believe in family. She certainly didn't produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment.

But responding to criticism on Twitter, Loughton has refused to apologise, feigning disbelief at the anger he has attracted.

Unbelievably, he went on to blame "some journo" for "distorting my comments".

If the Tories want this avoid becoming an even more toxic story, they would be wise to bring Loughton to heel now.

Former children's minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.