Downing Street denies Conservative misogyny problem amid ‘Porn MP’ investigation


Downing Street has pushed back on claims of an ingrained culture of misogyny within the Conservative party, as the chief whip investigates reports that a Conservative minister was spotted watching porn in the House of Commons.  

Just over a over a dozen Conservative MPs met chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris last night to share their experiences of sexual harassment and sexism in parliament at the hands of their colleagues.

At the meeting, two female Conservative MPs accused a male fronbench Conservative MP of watching porn on his phone on two separate occasions: in the House of Commons chamber next to a female minister, and on another occasion at a committee meeting.

A statement released by the whips office said: “The chief whip is looking into this matter. This behaviour is wholly unacceptable and action will be taken.”

In today’s lobby briefing, Number 10 denied the Conservative party had a problem with misogyny.

The PM’s press secretary said: “It’s obviously totally unacceptable behaviour and will be looked into… any allegations like this are taken very seriously”.

Downing Street added Johnson had made clear in recent days that “there’s absolutely no place for such behaviour and this cannot be tolerated in any workplace.”

The chief whip’s investigation falls against the backdrop of a series of difficult stories for the Conservative party regarding sexist and mysoginsic behaviour in parliament.

Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that 56 MPs – including three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers – are under investigation for sexual misconduct. Their cases are being reviewed by Independent Complaints and Grievance Service.

There has also been considerable upset and complaints raised by a Mail of Sunday story over the weekend, where deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was accused by unnamed Conservative MPs of a ‘Basic Instinct’ ploy to distract Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

Mail on Sunday editor David Dillon refused to meet with Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle after being summoned over the story (read more here). 

Labour’s leader Keir Starmer addressed the issue of misogynistic behaviour in Westminster during his opening remarks at PMQs.

Starmer stated: “I hope he’s also sent a clear message that there’s 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 replied: “There can be absolutely no place for such behaviour or such expression in this house, and we should treat each other Mr Speaker, frankly with respect that each other desserves.

Pressed by Caroline Lucas as to whether he considers sexual harassment as grounds for dismissal, the PM replied, “of course”, describing the act as “intolerable”.

Elsewhere in PMQs, Johnson and Starmer pointed the finger at one another over the cost of living crisis ahead of the local elections next week.

Starmer accused the PM being an “ostrich, perfectly happy keeping his head in the sand”, regarding the cost of living squeeze on British households. Labour’s leader claimed only Russia would be having a slower economic growth than the UK in the G20.

Johnson made clear that his party “have a plan” and described Labour administrations across the country to be “a bankrupt shambles”. To his fired-up Conservative backbenchers, the prime minister asserted that Starmer is “doomed to be a permenant spectator”.



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