Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn row over whose party is more sexist

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have taken each other to task in a heated exchange over sexism and women’s rights during PMQs.

Following International Women’s Day last weekend, the Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to apologise for “repeated offensive remarks” he has allegedly made against women.

He was referring to past comments that included comparing Muslim women wearing veils to “bank robbers” and “suggesting the best way to deal with advice from a female colleague is just to pat her on the bottom and send her on her way”.

Mr Corbyn told the House of Commons: “Words have consequences.

“His offensive words are backed up by offensive and discriminatory policies, from the rape clause, to dismantling local services which women, particularly BAME and disabled women disproportionately rely on.

“Can the Prime Minister apologise for his offensive comments and ensure that these discriminatory policies are reversed by his government.”

But Mr Johnson refused to express regret and instead responded with an attack on the Labour’s own record, saying he “will take no lessons” from the party.

“I am proud of what this government has done to promote the rights of women, I’m proud that we have a record number of female MPs in our party today.”

He continued: “I’m proud that this is the only party that has produced not one but two female Prime Ministers and wouldn’t it be an extraordinary and amazing thing, Mr Speaker if that party were to produce a female leader of their own – don’t hold your breath.”

The Prime Minister concluded in a final blow by referring to the female MPs who had quit the opposition party over alleged antisemitism.

He said: “I will take no lessons in sexism from a party where women, good women, good female MPs are bullied out of their party just because they’ve had the guts to stand up against the climate of antisemitism in the Labour Party.”

As jeers grew within the Chamber, cries of "shame on you" could be heard, though it is not clear from which benches.

However, Mr Johnson did surprise some MPs by agreeing with Mr Corbyn that the so-called "rape clause", which the government has previously defended, was an "injustice" that needs rectifying.

The clause is connected to 2017 reforms to limit tax credits to a family's first two children - it means women who have a third child as a result of rape can be exempted - but would have to provide evidence to do so.

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