Tory chair unveils party commitment for equal gender split of election candidates
Tory chair Brandon Lewis has revealed he is "absolutely committed" to ensuring women make up half of the party’s candidates at future elections.
Mr Lewis insisted he would "work tirelessly" to fulfill the "ambition" after admitting that “not enough” women currently make it through.
Addressing a party event on women in politics, he said: “We need the best people in our Parliament and in our Party, representing their communities up and down the country.
“We will not achieve this if women are excluded and if their voices are not heard.
“Right now, around 30% of those on our approved candidates list are women. This is not enough.
“That’s why I am setting out an ambition here today – to have women make up 50 per cent of our candidates list.
"This is not an easy ambition. But we have a duty to achieve it and I will personally work tirelessly to make this a reality.”
He added: “I am absolutely committed to meeting that ambition of an equal gender split on our candidates list. It will be a challenge.
“But if I know anything about our party, it’s that we are not afraid of a challenge.”
The chairman added that the party would look at how barriers to women entering politics could be overcome, as he pointed out that while 40% of the party’s members were women, just 20% of its MPs were.
However party vice-chair James Cleverly tweeted that that the party would not utilise quotas or all-women shortlists.
Mr Lewis said: “To achieve our ambition of getting more women on the candidates list and into Parliament we need to find out where barriers to success exist, and what action we can take to overcome them. I wish I could give you all the answers – but I can’t…
“I know that on average it takes women six to 12 months longer from showing an expression of interest in joining the candidates list, to applying - compared to men who often take a couple of days.
“We haven’t got to the bottom of why, so we will commission a substantial piece of research into the issues that lead women away from political and public life.
“We will use this to take action to break down barriers wherever they exist, and provide the practical steps to overcome them."
Mr Cleverly later tweeted in support of the announcement: