Kwasi Kwarteng denies institutional sexism in the Tory party
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Speaking to LBC, the business secretary said that there were “a few bad apples” in the Conservative ranks but that the party as a whole was not problematic. He dismissed suggestions that it is a hostile environment for women and compared the accusations to the issue of racism in Great Britain, saying that just because there are people who “hurl racist abuse” in the UK, it doesn’t make the whole nation racist.
Asked by LBC host Iain Dale whether he agrees with his Tory peer Caroline Nokes’ accusation that the party was “institutionally sexist”, Mr Kwarteng was dismissive.
“No, I don’t agree with [Ms Nokes]. I think it’s easy when you have a few, what I call, bad apples, it’s very easy to brand the whole institution as institutionally sexist.
“I just don’t think it is true. There are people who hurl racist abuse in this country but when people say that Britain is racist, I don’t agree with them.
“You can’t allow a few bad apples to tarnish the whole institution.”
Caroline Nokes, who is the chairwoman of the women and equalities committee, said that there was a culture of “male entitlement” following the Neil Parish porn scandal.
She said: “I absolutely think there is an institutional issue that needs to be addressed. It is institutional sexism and many don’t recognise it as a problem.
“There’s a sense of women in parliament being tolerated rather than valued. There are women in the party who have amazing attributes which get ignored.
“It still very much feels like it’s run by an old boys club.”
A succession of senior female Tory MPs have come forward to relate stories of misogyny and sexism from fellow party members.
Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she had been pinned “against a wall” by one Tory politician.
She said she has been on the “sharp end” of misogyny from colleagues “many times over”.
She added that MPs ought to behave in the Commons as if their daughters were in the room.
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The accusations have been made in light of the most recent Tory scandal, in which Neil Parish MP was alleged to be watching porn in Parliament.
He had the whip removed from him on Tuesday and resigned from office on Saturday afternoon.
Ms Nokes accused the party of “unnecessary dither and delay” over the handling of Mr Parish.
She said: “I felt by leaving it until Friday before we knew that action had been taken by the whips that it felt like unnecessary dither and delay.”
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