The Labour leader insisted he had mouthed “stupid people”, not “stupid woman” after the Prime Minister ripped into his dithering approach to a no confidence vote earlier this week. Returning to the chamber to clarify his remarks this afternoon, Mr Corbyn said: “During Prime Minister’s Question Time today, I referred to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as ‘stupid people’. “Mr Speaker I did not use the words ‘stupid woman’ about the Prime Minister or anyone else, and am completely opposed to the use of sexist or misogynist language in absolutely any form at all.”
Mr Corbyn sparked a sexism row over his alleged choice of language during a heated Commons debate earlier today.
As Theresa May compared his failed attempt to force a confidence vote in her leadership to a Christmas pantomime, the sullen Labour leader could be seen saying something under his breath which many Tory MPs insisted was the words “stupid woman”.
It prompted quick condemnation from Tory MPs, with party chairman Brandon Lewis urging him to either “apologise or clarify” what he had mouthed.
Deputy Tory chairman James Cleverly said: “This kind of misogynistic language must not be tolerated.”
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “The mask slips. Jeremy Corbyn’s abuse of the Prime Minister shows what a reactionary misogynist he is.”
Before Mr Corbyn issued his denial this afternoon, Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs that whatever the Labour leader had muttered was not audible on the audio recording.
But he said he had reviewed the footage and concluded it was “easy to see” why many people thought Mr Corbyn had said “stupid woman”.
He added he had received expert advice from “lip speakers” who also believed he mouthed “woman” and not “people”.
Lip speakers are hearing people who are trained to repeat someone’s message to lipreaders accurately by taking care to accurately produce the shape of the words.
Mr Bercow said: “I have looked at the television footage of the leader of the opposition reacting to the Prime Minister, allegedly saying ‘stupid woman’ to those seated next to him.
“Having heard the allegation against the leader of the opposition and having watched the footage it is easy to see why the leader of the opposition’s words might be construed as ‘stupid woman’.
“That was also the opinion of lip speakers – and I emphasis lip speakers rather than lip readers – whose advice was sought and obtained at short notice.”