Dominic Raab uses Paul O’Grady death to rally against ‘wokery’ in offensive Commons tribute

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has faced backlash for a clumsy tribute to Paul O’Grady, in which he called the British drag icon the wrong name and used his death to rally against “wokery” in the House of Commons.

The drag queen, comedian and broadcaster, died on Tuesday (28 March), aged 67.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (29 March), where Raab was responding in place of PM Rishi Sunak, Labour MP Chris Bryant asked: “Isn’t it time we, in this country, celebrated our naughty, hilarious drag queens and comics of every kind who inspire us to be a better and more generous nation?”

Out gay MP Bryant had also highlighted O’Grady’s arrest in 1987 after police raided the popular London gay bar, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Raab said he totally agreed with the remark, before referring to Paul O’Grady as Paul Grayson.

He only corrected himself after a number of people in the House of Commons pointed out the error.

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Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab pays tribute to “Paul Grayson” instead of Paul O’Grady. (House of Commons)

Raab said he thought some of O’Grady’s comedy “broke glass ceilings and boundaries”.

However, he added: “I also think it shows how we need greater, more rambunctious free speech and we need to avoid the wokery and the limitations on comedy, which, I’m afraid, both of them [O’Grady as himself and drag alter ego Lily Savage] would have had no time for.”

People swiftly took to social media to point out Raab’s blunder.

Writer James Felton tweeted: “If you’re going to use a comedian who has just passed away to make stupid points about ‘wokery’, you could at least have the courtesy to know their name is not Paul Grayson.”

Many people said it was embarrassing, particularly after Bryant’s words.

Others mentioned their concern and confusion at Raab using his tribute to talk about “wokery”, and questioned how much Raab even knew about Paul O’Grady.