Theresa May has stood by an aide who outed a Brexit whistleblower as gay in an official Downing Street statement, putting his family in Pakistan at risk.
The prime minister dismissed calls to sack her political secretary Stephen Parkinson as she faced questions from MPs over the contoversy in the House of Commons on Monday (March 26).
Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni was publicly outed as gay in an official Downing Street statement on Friday as he prepared to go public with allegations that the Vote Leave campaign illegally colluded with independent pro-Brexit group BeLeave to bypass campaign spending rules.
Stephen Parkinson, a former senior figure at Vote Leave and now one of Theresa May's closest advisors, denied the allegations in the communique from Number 10, revealing that he had been in a relationship with Sanni a the time of the referendum.
Theresa May's political secretary Stephen Parkinson outed a whistleblower in an official Downing Street statement.
The statement forced British-Pakistani Sanni to come out to his mother, and for his relatives in Pakistan to take "urgent protectve measures to ensure their safety".
"I never imagined that [Parkinson], with the help of Number 10, would choose to tell the world I am gay, in a last desperate attempt to scare me," Sanni said in a statement.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw challenged Theresa May over the scandal in the Commons on Monday, calling the outing a "disgrace" and urging the prime minister to take action.
Theresa May responded with vague platitudes, saying: "I of course recognise the importance of ensuring that we do recognise that for some being outed as gay is difficult because of their family circumstances.
"What I want to see is a world where everybody is able to be confident in their sexuality and doesn’t have to worry about such things."
Labour MP and former minister Angela Eagle also urged the prime minister to sack Parkinson - a call which May roundly rejected.
"No, I’m sorry, that is not what I should be doing, my political secretary does a very good job", she replied.