Tory councillor says pregnant Labour candidate can’t be MP as she’ll be ‘too busy’ changing nappies

'How can a woman who is just about to give birth take on a role as MP?' asks Conservative councillor

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A Conservative councillor has been accused of sexism after suggesting a Labour parliamentary candidate was unfit to be an MP, because she would be too busy looking after her young children.

Jon Wright was commenting on a Facebook post by Catherine Atkinson, who is standing in Derbyshire's Erewash constituency. 

Ms Atkinson of Ilkeston had put up a message describing herself as a barrister with a husband who served as a soldier in Afghanistan and a two-year-old son.

Mr Wright, who represents the Hallam Fields ward on Erewash Borough Council, then commented: "Funny she never mentioned she was heavily pregnant?"

After he was challenged by another user to explain why her pregnancy hampered her ability to be an MP, he wrote:"I wondered how she would represent the people of Erewash whilst on maternity leave? And if it's no problem why hasn't she mentioned it? She mentioned her 2 year old son? How can a woman who is just about to give birth take on a role as MP?" 

After several others reacted with outrage to the councillor’s comments, he continued to defend his position.

"I wondered how she would represent the people of Erewash whilst on maternity leave? And if it's no problem why hasn't she mentioned it?”

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(Catherine Atkinson)

“‘It’s my vote and surely something so big should be discussed. Brexit on the horizon and she might be too busy changing nappies to be a voice for the people of Erewash.”

Ms Atkinson, who is standing against the Conservatives' Maggie Throup, the Lib Dems' Martin Garnett, The Green Party's Ralph Hierons and Independent Roy Dunn, hit back at his "backwards comments" and demanded an apology. 

"If it’s right that a Conservative councillor has said a mum with young children shouldn’t run for Parliament, I have to say I’m not surprised – that’s why they are called the 'Nasty Party'," she told the Nottingham Post:

‘He should apologise. I require an apology not for me – I’m used to standing up to bullies – but on behalf of all young mothers out there, they shouldn’t be put off running for parliament.

Mr Wright has since apologised for his comments. 

In a statement posted to his own Facebook page, he said:“It appears my comments regarding Catherine Atkinson and the fact she is due to have a baby shortly before or after the election have caused offence to a few people.

“I feel I was asking a legitimate question considering the demanding and time consuming role of being an MP is. If my comment appeared to be sexist or offensive in any way, I unreservedly apologise, it wasn't meant to be that way.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party in Erewash said: ‘The recent comments made by Cllr Wright on social media are neither the views of the Conservative Party, or the Conservative Party candidate for Erewash, Maggie Throup.

"Both the Conservative Party and Parliament have taken great strides to encourage more women and mothers to stand for Parliament."

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