UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly expanded the country's sanctions regime against Iran
British interior minister James Cleverly. Image/AFP AFP News

Home Secretary James Cleverly has been forced to issue an apology after he made a joke about spiking his wife's drink.

He made the remarks at a Downing Street reception, stating that an ideal wife is someone "who is always mildly sedated, so she can never realise there are better men out there".

He went on to add that "a little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night" was "not really illegal if it's only a little bit", per the Sunday Mirror.

The "joke" did not go down well with internet users, some of his colleagues, and opposition leaders.

He has been facing calls to resign from women's rights groups and opposition MPs. Labour Party leaders have called the comments "appaling".

"It is truly unbelievable that the home secretary made such appalling jokes on the very same day the government announced a new policy on spiking," the BBC quoted Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper as saying.

Women's rights organisation The Fawcett Society has asked Cleverly to resign: "How can we trust him to seriously address violence against women and girls?"

Labour's shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Alex Davies-Jones, has said that the issue cannot be tackled until there is a full cultural change and this "banter" around spiking is stopped.

Meanwhile, the home secretary's office has issued an apology, stating that it was meant to "be an ironic joke".

"In what was always understood as a private conversation, James, the home secretary tackling spiking, made what was clearly meant to be an ironic joke - for which he apologises," read the statement.

The remarks were made on December 18 during a reception that saw journalists, political aides, ministers, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in attendance. It occurred on the same day the home secretary announced a series of measures to tackle spiking.

Last month, Cleverly was forced to apologise for using "inappropriate language" about a Labour MP. He was accused of using the swearword "sh*thole" to describe the Labour-run Stockton North. Later, Cleverly apologised for his remarks and said that he had used the word to describe the constituency's MP, Alex Cunningham.

"For the avoidance of doubt... I did not, would not and would never make such comments about his constituency," he said in the House of Commons.

"I know what I said. I rejected the accusation that I criticised his constituency. My criticism, which I made from a sedentary position about the honourable gentleman, used inappropriate language for which I apologise," he said. "But I will not accept that my criticism was of his constituency because it was not".