John Bercow dismisses call for urgent debate on Clive Lewis joke as 'absurd and inappropriate'

House of Commons Speaker rejects application from Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani for an emergency parliamentary discussion

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 24 October 2017 12:38 BST
Clive Lewis apologised for the remarks saying they were 'offensive and unacceptable'
Clive Lewis apologised for the remarks saying they were 'offensive and unacceptable' (Novara Media)

The Speaker of the House of Commons has dismissed a call to hold an emergency debate on Labour MP Clive Lewis's use of a misogynistic term.

John Bercow said it was "wholly absurd and inappropriate" to ask for a parliamentary discussion on the joke, which saw Mr Lewis tell actor Sam Swann to "get on your knees bitch".

His use of the phrase at a a Labour conference fringe event in Brighton, was widely condemned by politicians, including many from his own party, after footage of his comments was shared online.

Former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman wrote: "Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Dismayed."

Jess Phillips, chair of the women's parliamentary Labour Party, also took to social media to express concern, tweeting: "Just seen the Clive Lewis video. Obviously I am appalled, just listened to 7 teenage girls speak up about gender inequality. Perhaps I'll bring them to work on Monday."

Former minister Yvette Cooper tweeted: "Agree w Jess. No excuse for saying this, whatever context."

Mr Lewis later apologised for the remarks saying they were "offensive and unacceptable".

Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani then said she would apply for an emergency parliamentary discussion on the issue, claiming Mr Lewis "used [his] position of power and establishment to undermine Parliament".

But although Mr Bercow said he did not "take such a matter lightly", he rejected the application, calling it "wholly absurd and inappropriate" to hold an emergency discussion of the remark.

Labour MP Jared O'Mara has also been accused of sexism after a series of derogatory remarks on online forums from 2002 and 2004 emerged.

The member for Sheffield Hallam, who took former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's seat in this year's general election, said he would like to have an orgy with four members of Girls Aloud.

He also claimed that the 2003 winner of Pop Idol, Michelle McManus, only won the singing competition because she was fat.

Mr O'Mara initially said he would remain on the Women and Equalities Select Committee to tackle misogyny in the future.

But he later resigned, after it was revealed he also made a number of homophobic remarks, including calling gay men "fudge-packers" and "poofters".

One comment read: “I find it funny how some homosexuals think they have the monopoly on being subject to abuse, they should try being ginger … AND disabled!”

Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed it was "safe to say Labour can no longer pretend to be the party of equal opportunities and diversity".

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted after Mr O’Mara’s resignation: “Hard to see how anyone with his views was selected and retains the Labour whip. Sheffield Hallam deserves a by-election.”

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