Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 November 2020

Jeremy Corbyn 'stupid woman' jibe provokes outrage in UK parliament

Male opposition leader accused of sexism after angry taunt at Theresa May

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is accused of calling Theresa May a "stupid woman" under his breath. AP.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is accused of calling Theresa May a "stupid woman" under his breath. AP.

Uproar swept the British House of Commons on Wednesday as Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, was accused of calling the prime minister Theresa May a “stupid woman” under his breath.

In scenes compared by one member to a riot, Conservative MPs seized on the moment to urge attack Mr Corbyn and accuse the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, of being biased.

A session that focused initially on the fraught Brexit negotiations quickly took a sharp turn when a video of the alleged incident spread across social media.

Soon after Mr Corbyn seemingly uttered the words, social media posts of videos of the incident emerged. Mr Corbyn left soon after, further complicating matters, with Mrs May’s allies urged Mr Bercow to recall the Labour leader to apologise.

Mr Corbyn, who later returned to parliament in the afternoon to refute the claims, insisted he said 'stupid people' in reference to "those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime." He was invited to return by the speaker.

Mr Bercow, after reviewing the footage said "it is easy to see why the leader of the Opposition's words might be construed as 'stupid woman'".

It also exposed the bizarre and ritualised traditions of the UK parliament. Soon after questions to the prime minister had finished, Conservative MPs lined up to make a ‘point of order’ over the incident.

Mr Bercow came under attack having also previously used similar words previously. He said he nor his clerks had initially not seen or heard the comments supposedly made by Mr Corbyn. “Have you got Twitter,” one unnamed MP asked Mr Bercow.

Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, asked the speaker: “"why was it when you called me a stupid woman in this Chamber you did not have to apologise?"

Later in the afternoon when Mr Corbyn returned Mrs Leadsom, said she "deeply" regretted the Labour leader had not apologised to Mrs May.


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Conservative MP Anna Soubry accused Mr Bercow of bias against her party, suggesting if it had been the other way round he would have acted differently. “Members can see the evidence on their phones,” she added.

Labour’s Dame Margaret Beckett said the Tories were guilty of leading an “orchestrated riot.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has previously come under attack for sexist comments after telling Labour MP Andrea Eagle to "calm down, dear" in 2011.

Wednesday's incident is the latest in a long line of uproarious moments in the UK's parliament amid extensive divisions over Brexit.

Earlier this month Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle picked up the ceremonial mace that sits in the House of Commons and proceeded to try and leave the chamber. He protesting the decision by Mrs May to delay lawmakers a vote on the final Brexit deal.

Updated: December 19, 2018 07:58 PM

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