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Boris Johnson Says There Is "No Place" For Sexism In Parliament After Misogyny Complaints

Boris Johnson has insisted there was "no place" for sexism in Westminster

3 min read

Boris Johnson has said MPs should treat each other with "respect" after a row over a culture of sexism and misogyny in Parliament.

The Prime Minister has said there would be "absolutely no place" for sexist comments in Parliament after deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was accused of a "ploy" using her legs to distract him.

The declaration comes as The Sun published claims that an MP had watched porn on their phone in the House of Commons.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer urged Johnson to send a "clear message" that there was "no place for sexism and misogyny or looking down on people because of where they come from in his party, in this House, or in modern Britain".

Johnson reiterated that he had spoken to Rayner since the Mail on Sunday story was published to express his concerns about the comments.

"I repeat what I said to her," he told MPs. 

"There can be absolutely no place for such behaviour or such expression in this House, we should treat each other, frankly, with the respect each other deserves."

Earlier this week the Mail on Sunday published a widely criticised story which quoted an anonymous Conservative MP who claimed Rayner used had crossed her legs as part of a "tactic" to distract the Prime Minister during Commons debates.

Rayner described the story as "misogynistic", "sexist" and "steeped in classism".

"They talk about my background because I had a child when I was young, as if to say I'm promiscuous, that was the insinuation," she said. "Which I felt was quite offensive for people from my background."

Amid the row over misogyny reignited by the story, on Wednesday The Sun reported that a Conservative MP was caught watching porn on his mobile phone in the House of Commons.

Complaints have reportedly been made about the MP to government chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris with a request that they be expelled from the party.

The revelations came after a number of female Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May, met on Tuesday evening to discuss the culture within Westminster.

There are currently 54 MPs, including three cabinet ministers and two members of the shadow cabinet, who have been reported to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

Speaking after the allegations emerged at PMQs, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: "The Prime Minister has just rightly said there can be no place for sexism and misogyny in this House.

"So can he now confirm whether he considers that sexual harassment, apparently unlike bullying and lying is grounds for dismissal under the ministerial code."

Responding to the question, Johnson said sexual harassment was "intolerable" and welcomed the new process for reporting concerns, adding that "of course" any incidents would be "grounds for dismissal".

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has insisted the government would take a "zero tolerance" approach to sexism in Parliament and that it was a "safe place" for women to work.

Speaking on Sunday, he said: "I know that the Prime Minister and the government shows zero tolerance of sexual harassment and decisions will be taken in the light of that overall approach."

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