Helen Goodman MP. Photo: Channel 5
Show Hide image

Labour MP slammed for "sexist" Tweet about female Tory ministers

Helen Goodman upbraided for declaring Tory women promoted to the government this week "puppets".

Labour politician Helen Goodman has come under fire for a "sexist" attack on the female Tory MPs newly promoted to the Cabinet.

The shadow minister for media gave her backing to a widely derided Daily Mail spread that focused on the clothing and appearance of the women appointed to the government in this week's reshuffle.

Referencing the article about the "battle of the Downing St catwalk", she tweeted:

Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland in County Durham, has since apologised and deleted the Tweet:

Her initial sentiments have provoked outrage in Westminster and on social media, however.

Deputy chair of the Conservative party Sarah Newton has written to Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman this afternoon demanding disciplinary action against Goodman by Labour. She wrote:

This disgraceful and demeaning slur damages not only those Conservative MPs referred to, but all women in politics.

Ms Goodman is a member of your Shadow Ministerial team. It is therefore incumbent upon you either to condemn her remarks, or pass the matter to Ed Miliband to take disciplinary action.

Ms Goodman must make a full and personal apology to all those Conservative MPs that she smeared, and both you and Ed Miliband must make clear that her comment was utterly unacceptable.

Given that you have devoted much of your political career to advancing the cause of women in public life, it will be deeply disappointing if you ignore Ms Goodman’s repulsive remarks.

Conservative minister for women Nicky Morgan said it showed that Labour is "weak" that "it took two hours for her to delete her comments and no proper apology has been made."

Anna Soubry, another Tory MP, added that the comment was "deliberately insulting".

Members of the public have also rebuked Goodman for her words. One man tweeted:

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

Getty
Show Hide image

6 times government ministers have contradicted each other over Brexit

Getting your line straight is slightly more complex than a moon landing. 

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Theresa May told Jeremy Paxman during the 2017 general election campaign. Almost exactly two months on, her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has declared the UK will seek a transitional deal that could last three years.

Hammond’s comments come a day after government ministers contradicted themselves over when free movement could end. “Strong and stable”, the Tory campaign slogan, has gone the way of Labour’s Ed Stone. 

Here’s a selection of times government ministers have contradicted each other over Brexit.

1. Free movement

Brandon Lewis vs Amber Rudd and Michael Gove

The immigration minister Brandon Lewis declared on 27 July that a new immigration system would be in place from the spring of 2019.

But his departmental boss, the home secretary Amber Rudd, said the same day that there would be an “implementation period” while the flow of EU workers continued and there would be no cliff edge.

Meanwhile, environment secretary Michael Gove and non-expert Brexiteer said days earlier that there was likely to be a transitional period where free movement continued for two years.

2. Chlorinated chicken

Michael Gove vs Liam Fox

One question emerging from discussion of a potential UK-US trade deal was whether chlorine-washed chicken would be allowed into British supermarkets. The international trade secretary Liam Fox said such chicken was “perfectly safe”.

He may not have been round to Michael Gove’s recently for dinner, then. The environment secretary said he opposed the import of chlorine-washed chicken and that “we are not going to dilute our high food-safety standards” in pursuit of “any trade deal”. 

3. Moon landings

David Davis vs Liam Fox

In June, Brexit secretary David Davis suggested the negotiations to leave the EU were more complicated than landing on the moon.

His fellow Brexiteer Liam Fox, on the other hand, said in July that a future UK-EU trade deal should be “the easiest in human history”. Then again, maybe he just has a different definition of easy.

4. Single market and customs union

David Davis vs Philip Hammond

Perhaps one reason the Brexit secretary is finding it so tricky is that on 27 June he told a conference he plans to leave the single market and customs union by March 2019

But the Chancellor, aka the Mopper Up of Economic Mess, stressed Britain was heading down a “smooth and orderly path”. 

5. EU army

Michael Fallon vs Boris Johnson

In 2016, fresh from a Leave campaign which warned of the dangers of an EU army, foreign secretary Boris Johnson voiced his support for… an EU army.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon, though, had previously said the UK would continue to resist any rival to Nato. 

6. The migration cap

Theresa May vs David Davis and Philip Hammond

As home secretary, Theresa May defended the net migration cap, an idea the Tories thought up while in opposition, even though in practice it was widely criticised and never met. Even though, according to the George Osborne-edited Evening Standard, none of her colleagues privately back the target, it has stayed under her premiership. 

Some ministers have publicly questioned it as well. As early as March, Davis said immigration might go up after the UK leaves the EU.  In June, Hammond said the system for businesses recruiting foreign workers would not be more “onerous” than it is at present. 

(You can see all the ministers in the Brexit government that have realised reducing immigration might be a problem for them here)

 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.