- Boris Johnson apologises to Emily Thornberry after being accused of sexism.
- John Bercow accused Johnson of being “inappropriate and frankly sexist” after the foreign secretary referred to Thornberry using her spouse’s name.
- “The shadow foreign secretary has a name and it’s not lady something. We know what her name is. It is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms,” Bercow said.
- Foreign Office minister defends Johnson and says he doesn’t have a “sexist bone in his body.”
LONDON – Boris Johnson was forced to apologise to Emily Thornberry today after using “inappropriate and frankly sexist language” to the shadow foreign secretary.
House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, reprimanded the foreign secretary on Tuesday afternoon after he referred to Labour’s Thornberry by the name of her husband during a debate on foreign affairs.
“Say no says the learned lady, the Baroness, whatever it is, of Nugee,” Johnson said to MPs. Thornberry is married to High Court judge, Sir Christopher Nugee.
This prompted Bercow to chide the foreign secretary for the “sexist” comment.
“I don’t want to be unkind or discourteous to the foreign secretary, but I say on advice as the clerks swivel around to me, two things: First of all, we don’t name-call in this chamber. And secondly – I’m dealing with the matter and the honourable gentleman will benefit from listening – we do not address people by the titles of their spouses.
“The shadow foreign secretary has a name and it’s not lady something. We know what her name is. It is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms. I’m not having it in this chamber. That’s the end of the matter. It is not legitimate, it is not allowed, and it will be called out. Believe me, that is the end of the matter. I hope I’ve made the position extremely clear to those not well-informed about such matters.”
Watch Bercow accuse Johnson of sexism:
Speaker John Bercow blastsForeign Secretary Boris Johnson for being ‘sexist’ inattacking Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry pic.twitter.com/u3toLsNvhs
— Richard Morris (@imrichardmorris) March 27, 2018
Bercow’s statement was received with applause from the Labour benches and triggered an apology from Johnson.
“Can I crave your indulgence and apologise for any inadvertent sexism or discourtesy that you may have deemed me to be guilty of,” the government minister said.
“I heartedly tender my apologies to the right honourable lady opposite if she was offended by what I said. I mean no harm, Mr Speaker.”
Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin later defended Johnson, telling MPs the foreign secretary did not have a “sexist bone in his body.”
“As a passionate feminist and without a sexist bone in his body, the Foreign Secretary is an advocate for education and had discussed with the Secretary of State for International Development and Secretary of State for Education among others,” Baldwin said during a debate on promoting education across the globe