A Conservative MP who suggested that a pregnant Cabinet minister might not be able to give the job her “full attention” has been labelled “incredibly regressive".
After Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves announcement that she would go on maternity leave within weeks of the General Election, Andrew Rossindell, the MP for Romford, said: “I don’t expect Rachel Reeves to be in the Cabinet after the election, but clearly people need to be put in positions they can handle.
“I don’t want to say that someone who is having a baby is not eligible to be a Cabinet minister, but I certainly think perhaps the demands of that particular job will require someone to give it their full attention.”
Justine Roberts, founder and chief executive of website Mumsnet, hit back at Mr Rosindell, saying: “The idea that pregnant women should be effectively debarred from high political office feels incredibly regressive.
“Warm noises are made about getting more women into top positions, but too many times we see individual women being attacked for things that nobody would attack a man for.
“Can anyone imagine it being proposed that men who are fathers of young children should stay out of demanding jobs?"
Asked whether the Prime Minister believed a pregnant woman could serve in the Cabinet, Mr Cameron’s official spokesman told a regular Westminster briefing: “Why on earth not?”
The spokesman added: “The Prime Minister’s views around maternity leave is that they are universal, they apply to everyone and it is entirely a matter for individual families to take the decisions that they thin are right for them, and the Government’s job is to support them in those decisions they take.”
Ms Reeves is due to have her second child on June 15 and told the Mail: “I’m having a child and I shall be on maternity leave for the early weeks and months of the next government.
She added however that she would want to get rid of the controversial bedroom tax before the leave began.
“The first thing I would do is abolish the bedroom tax. That’s something I can do really quickly. My baby’s due in June and I want to cancel the bedroom tax before I go on maternity leave.”
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