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    Brexit More Serious Than MP Behavior but More Gov’t Heads Could Roll - Economist

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    UK Defense Secretary’s resignation amid Westminster sex scandal will add pressure on other cabinet ministers embroiled in sex harassment allegations, political economist Rodney Atkinson has told Sputnik, adding that Brexit is still among top concerns.

    UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon resigned as UK Defense Secretary November 1, after it was revealed he "repeatedly put his hand on" journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee in 2002 during a party conference dinner.

    ​"A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days including some about my previous conduct. Many of these have been false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards we require of the armed forces that I have the honor to represent. I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defence Secretary," Fallon's resignation letter read.

    The Prime Minister Theresa May said she appreciated the "characteristically serious manner " in which Fallon had considered his position after receiving his letter of resignation. Others were less bullish — in a statement, Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael said May's cabinet was "falling apart like a cheap piece of flat-pack furniture."

    "As we face the biggest negotiations in the modern history of this country her ministers can't even agree to sit around the same table. Her cabinet is more divided than the 27 EU nations it is meant to be negotiating with. [The Prime Minister] lacks the authority to lead this country and her government is in meltdown. She has to change or leave. There are no other options," he said.

    British servicemen stand at attention as Britain's defense minister Michael Fallon prepares to deliver a speech at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, Romania, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
    © AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda
    British servicemen stand at attention as Britain's defense minister Michael Fallon prepares to deliver a speech at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, Romania, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

    ​Nonetheless, political economist Rodney Atkinson suggested Fallon's resignation — and the surrounding sex scandal — "ranks very low down people's political priorities when they realize the seriousness and future prospects of Brexit, among other issues."

    The prominent eurosceptic, Mr. Atkinson acknowledged more heads could roll.

    "There are certainly some serious allegations that have been leveled, most serious of all the rape of a party activity by a Labour MP, and the party's attempts to cover it up. There's been silence on sexual abuse by politicians for years — there could be a backlog of these sort of things that come out, so there could be further resignations to come. If that does come to pass, I hope it's for really serious behavior, not minor flirtations or brushing knees. These silly allegations can detract from the real problem," he told Sputnik.

    Pressure's On

    Fallon's resignation certainly has the capacity to add to the pressure on other cabinet ministers embroiled in sex scandals to resign, such as First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office Damian Green and International Trade Minister Mark Garnier.

    Green was named on the infamous WhatsApp dossier, a spreadsheet compiled by Conservative aides and staff of 36 party MPs known to have engaged in, or been accused of, improper behavior of a sexual nature. While part of his entry was redacted in a leaked screengrab of the document, it was noted he was "handsy at parties" — he now faces an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment.

    Garnier, whose spreadsheet entry noted he was "inappropriate with women," likewise faces an inquiry, after admitting to calling his secretary "sugar t***" and sending her to buy sex toys for him, incidents he described "good humored high jinks" and "amusing conversation."

    Beyond cabinet ministers, several MPs named in the dossier are accused of very serious misconduct, which could pre-empt their resignation as parliamentarians, and resultant by-elections in their constituencies. Should those votes elect other representatives of other parties in their place, May's already precarious minority government could be weakened further.

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    Tags:
    government ministers, resgination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, Conservative Party, Labour party, Damian Green, Michael Fallon, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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