Cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has opened up about the scale of sexual harassment at Westminster, stating that ‘all of us as women in parliament have been subjected to inappropriate language, to wandering hands … it doesn’t change.’ It comes after an unnamed Tory MP was accused of watching porn in the Commons this week.
Speaking to LBC, Trevelyan recalled being touched inappropriately around half a dozen times during her time in parliament. The international trade secretary has been an MP for the Conservative party since 2015. ‘[I’ve been] pinned up against a wall by a male MP – who is no longer in the House I’m pleased to say – declaring I must want him because he was a powerful man,’ Trevelyan said, noting that she has had to call male MPs out for groping women a number of times. 'I've witnessed and been at the sharp end of misogyny from some colleagues many times over'.
'The vast majority of the men I work with are delightful,' she continued. 'They’re committed parliamentarians, they’re passionate about the causes they fight. But there are a few for whom too much drink, or a view that somehow being elected makes them god’s gift to women, that they can suddenly please themselves.’
The Tory party has come under fire this week after Labour demanded to know why the whip has not been withdrawn from the MP accused of watching explicit videos at work. It’s understood that the chief whip’s office knows the identity of the accused MP, but the party has only suggested that witnesses should go to the independent complaints scheme to trigger a formal inquiry.
While the public have not been made aware of the MP’s identity, according to The Telegraph the man is a backbench Tory MP who entered parliament before 2015. Tory MP Caroline Nokes told The Independent that ‘in another other workplace’ the accused would have been suspended – while other MPs called for the man to be immediately sacked.
If you’re a bloke – keep your hands in your pockets.
A string of female MPs have since began raising issues of sexism and misogyny within the party – reporting that they were being side-lined in favour of senior Tory men who dominate media broadcasts. One source told The Guardian that female MPs are ‘on the brink of mutiny’ after it was reported 56 MPs had sexual harassment complaints made against them as well as three cabinet ministers.
‘It’s never okay anywhere,’ Trevelyan said of sexual harassment. ‘It’s not okay in Westminster either. If you’re a bloke – keep your hands in your pockets. Behave as you would if you had your daughter in the room.’