Ann Widdecombe shares her views on Windsor Brexit Framework
Veteran politician Ann Widdecombe has sparked outrage with an attack on mini skirt-wearing MPs she believes are short on talent.
The former prisons minister and ex-Strictly Come Dancing contestant gave a scathing assessment of the present generation of female MPs.
Denouncing today’s Parliament as “very, very third rate”, she made an unflattering comparison with political icons of the past.
The 75-year-old said: “Let’s look at the women. You had Margaret Thatcher, you had Betty Boothroyd, you had Shirley Williams, you had Barbara Castle. These were big figures, very able, very capable.
“Now you’ve got an awful lot of miniskirts, but, you know, not much talent.
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“I’m all for women in parliament, but they got to get there on exactly the same basis as the men. They’ve got to get there by beating all the competition.”
Miss Widdecombe, who quit the Conservatives, served as a Brexit Party MEP and has now joined Reform UK, was withering about the 101 women MPs elected in Tony Blair’s landslide. Describing the MPs as “the Blair babes”, she compared them to the 101 Dalmatians and criticised their resilience.
She told GB News how “one of them came up to me in a corridor and she said to me, ‘Ann, isn’t it horrible how the men are so rude to us?’ And I said, ‘Yes, and isn’t it horrible how they’re so rude to each other?’
“And she hadn’t thought of that. She’d just been roughed up in the chamber.
“She assumed it was because she was a woman. In fact, it was because she was useless.”
Twenty-nine year-old Levelling Up minister Dehenna Davison agreed that “everyone should get there on talent and hard work alone” – but had a very different approach to fashion from Miss Widddecombe.
She said: “I may wear the odd miniskirt on a weekend but that takes nothing away from my ability to do my job. Authenticity is much more important to people.
“Maybe we need to reflect on the reasons some talented women are put off entering politics in the first place. 1950s thinking like this doesn’t help.”
Nickie Aiken, a Conservative party deputy chairman, said: “I think Ms Widdecombe’s remarks are not only wrong but deeply offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“We have by far the most impressive group of women MPs across the House that I can eve recall – women of all ages from their 20s to their 80s from all backgrounds with life experiences they have brought to parliament to improve the lives of people across the country.”
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The Liberal Democrats’ Baroness Randerson said: “In practice, women generally still face huge practical hurdles to get into Parliament, especially if they have younger children. The strident tone of modern politics still puts many women off from wanting to participate.
“Rather than insulting the fashion choices of women MPs , we should be encouraging many more so that the Commons truly reflects the UK as a whole.”
And Anglesey Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie said: “We have not yet had enough women MPs elected in history to fill the House of Commons and I think we need to stick together and strive towards better representation of women in parliament, not denigrate each other in this way”
Jemima Olchawski of the Fawcett Society said: “It is simply wrong to make our MPs out to be be girls in miniskirts rather than what they are – holders of high office in our democracy.”
She argued that “from banning upskirting to recognising coercive control in legislation, women have been at the forefront of vital and deeply serious political debate and policy making”.
In her GB News interview with Gloria De Piero, herself a Labour MP from 2010 to 2019, Miss Widdecombe described the premiership of Theresa May as “absolutely hopeless”. She also said a Conservative election loss is now “inevitable”.
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