Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been embroiled in a row for muttering under his breath whilst Prime Minister Theresa May addressed him. Mr Corbyn has been condemned by Tory MPs, with party chairman Brandon Lewis urging him to either “apologise or clarify”. Deputy Tory chairman James Cleverly said on Twitter: “This kind of misogynistic language must not be tolerated.”
What did Jeremy Corbyn say to Theresa May?
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of saying “stupid woman” under his breath whilst Theresa May spoke.
Mrs May likened his attempt to force a confidence vote in her earlier this week to a Christmas pantomime just before he made the comment.
However, a spokesman Mr Corbyn denied he had said “stupid woman”, instead insisting he had mouthed “stupid people”, referring generally to MPs.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The mask slips. Jeremy Corbyn’s abuse of the Prime Minister shows what a reactionary misogynist he is.”
Mr Corbyn faced criticism from his own backbenches, with Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy saying: “This is not ok.
“PMQs is a hotbed of emotions but I hope that Jeremy will accept this kind of behaviour isn’t his normal good nature or what we expect of progressive men.”
The Labour leader’s spokesman said that Mr Corbyn had said “stupid people”, referring generally to MPs who were not taking the issues being debated seriously.
He said: “He did not call her a stupid woman and so I don’t think there’s any basis for an apology.”
In response to repeated requests to look at video evidence of the incident, Mr Bercow said: “I am happy to look at that evidence if that evidence exists.
“I would come back on the matter as advised by the Clerk after the two statements to the House.”
But Tory backbencher Anna Soubry questioned this, saying: “If it was one of my male colleagues on this side of the house that had used that expression against a woman on the front bench of the opposition you sir would take action immediately.”
Conservative MP for North Dorset Simon Hoare added: “Certainly a number of us will have seen on a variety of Twitter feeds clips which anybody who has a basic lip-reading skill can understand what the Labour leader had to say about the Prime Minister.”
The Speaker interrupted to tell him he “had got the point” and did not believe the MP had “added much, frankly”.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman added: “I think he was referring to the remarks and the exchanges about pantomimes, and so on.”
When asked who the Labour leader was referring to, he said: “Those who were failing to address the reality of the situation. As far as I’m aware, he was saying ‘stupid people’ and it was clearly in response to what was going on in the chamber. He definitely didn’t say ‘stupid woman’.”
And when asked why he could be confident that Mr Corbyn did not say those words, the spokesman said: “I’ve been in touch with him”.
“I think lip-reading in such circumstances is always open to doubt. He is adamant that he did not say that, and I have complete confidence in him.”