Boris Johnson was forced to apologise after referring to his opposite number Ms Thornberry as ‘Baroness whatever-it-is’ and ‘Lady Nugee’ which is her husband’s name during a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Responding to questions in Parliament, the Foreign Secretary referred to her as “the noble and learned Baroness whatever-it-is, I can’t remember” and then added “Nugee” after other Tories shouted her husband’s name.
Speaker Bercow then interrupted the debate and accused the Foreign Secretary of ‘name-calling’ and being ‘frankly sexist.’
He said: “We do not address people by the titles of their spouses.
“The Shadow Foreign Secretary has a name and it is not ‘Lady-something’ and it is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms, and I’m not having this in this chamber.
“That is the end of the matter… it will not be allowed and you will be called out on it.”
Boris profusely apologised saying: “May I crave your indulgence just to prostrate myself before you and to apologise for any inadvertent sexism or discourtesy that you may have deemed me to have been guilty of.
“And I heartily tender my apologies to the right honourable lady opposite if she was offended by what I said. I meant no harm, Mr Speaker and I apologise unreservedly if I have offended the feelings of the right honourable lady.”
Ms Thornberry is married to High Court judge Sir Christopher Nugee, and does hold the title of Lady Nugee but goes by her maiden name instead.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary complained last year about the use of the name in the House of Commons when the Prime Minister, Theresa May, was even forced to apologise to her.
Mrs May said at the time: “If the Honourable Lady is concerned about the reference that I made to her, of course I will apologise for that
“I have to say to her, though, that for the last 36 years I have been referred to by my husband’s name.”