Top civil servants should not publicly support Black Lives Matter, warns Jacob Rees-Mogg

22 February 2022, 13:21

Jacob Rees-Mogg said top civil servants shouldn't show support for BLM.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said top civil servants shouldn't show support for BLM. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Top civil servants should not put out messages of support for campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned.

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The Tory MP, who was appointed Brexit minister earlier this month, said permanent secretaries who run Whitehall departments must be "completely apolitical" in his latest Moggcast for the ConservativeHome website.

His controversial comments come after Sir Stephen Lovegrove and Jonathan Slater were criticised for putting out messages with the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

Mr Slater, who was then the top former civil servant at the Department for Education, had said in a post on social media in 2020 there was much to be done in Whitehall to improve diversity and signed off with the hashtag.

Meanwhile, in 2020 Sir Stephen said in an internal message to staff discussing diversity that "systemic racial inequality is not unique to America but also has deep roots within UK society, including Defence".

Mr Rees-Mogg was asked about the remarks from the former permanent secretaries at defence and education.

He said they should be "completely apolitical".

"They can remember state events, they can remember Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday and the Queen's Jubilee," the former leader of the House said.

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Mr Rees-Mogg also said officials should be allowed to include their preferred personal pronouns on emails if they wanted to, although it should be a requirement.

"It is not something I choose to do personally. I am a great believer in freedom of choice for people to decide what they want to do," he said.

"If you want to put at the bottom you should be addressed as 'your excellency' in normal circumstances, that is up to you.

"I wouldn't choose to do it myself and I certainly wouldn't enforce it on people and I wouldn't expect them to do so."