Sexist of the Year award 'handed out at lockdown-breaking Downing Street Christmas party'

2 May 2022, 09:42

Boris Johnson has been urged to respond to the reports a 'Sexist of the Year' award was given out at Downing Street.
Boris Johnson has been urged to respond to the reports a 'Sexist of the Year' award was given out at Downing Street. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A 'Sexist of the Year' award was handed out at a lockdown-busting Christmas party at Downing Street, it has been claimed.

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Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding he answers questions over the reports.

Ms Rayner, who has been embroiled in a sexism row after a Tory MP accused her of crossing and uncrossing her legs to "distract" Mr Johnson, said he must answer why sexism in his office "appears to be celebrated and rewarded".

The prize was reportedly presented during a mock ceremony at an illegal gathering at No10 in December 2020, The Sunday Times reported.

Read more: Chris Bryant says he was 'touched up' by senior MPs amid outcry at Parliament's culture

Read more: Tory MP Neil Parish meant to look at 'Dominator' farm machinery not porn, friends claim

Ms Rayner said the public "have a right to the truth" as she demanded the PM responds to the claims.

In a letter, Ms Rayner said that if the allegation is true, the government must release information stating who gave out the award, who was nominated for it and why, and who was presented with the prize.

"It has already been established that there were a number of events in Downing Street that were illegal under the lockdown rules in place at the time, but this raises further questions about the conduct of senior political figures during the course of these events that deserve an urgent response from you," the letter states.

It continues: "You have claimed on the record this week that there is "no place" for sexism in politics, and yet there are now serious and credible allegations in the Sunday Times that sexist behaviour has not only taken place in your own office but has been celebrated and rewarded.

Read more: 'Everybody does it for god's sake!': Caller defends Neil Parish's Commons porn use

"You are ultimately responsible for the culture and activity that takes place within Downing Street under your administration.

"If true, these allegations are not only at odds with your professed opposition to sexism but set a terrible example and must result in further action."

The allegation comes as a number damning accusations continue to plague the House of Commons, with 56 MPs reportedly facing claims of sexual misconduct.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan exclusively told LBC she was "pinned against a wall" by a male MP, who is no longer a member of Parliament.

She told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast she has experienced "wandering hands" from half-a-dozen male MPs as she hit out at the "completely unacceptable power abuses".

Read more: Cabinet minister tells LBC she was pinned against wall by male MP with 'wandering hands'

Meanwhile, Labour MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the standards committee, has revealed how he was touched by older, senior MPs after he was first elected to the House of Commons.

Mr Bryant told LBC's Iain Dale on Sunday that he felt he could not report it because he did not want to "end up being part of the story".

He did not name the MPs and added that racism and misogyny is "certainly still around in Parliament".

And Neil Parish, a Tory MP, has had to quit after he admitted watching porn in the Commons.

He caused alarm to two colleagues who witnessed him watching pornography on his mobile phone - actions that ultimately cost the long-standing parliamentarian his political career.

The 65-year-old had fought to stay on as MP, but on Saturday he said he recognised the "furore" he caused and said he would resign.

Read more: 'They shouldn't have to put up with this crap': Minister slams misogynistic Rayner story

There have been calls for the Tories to have an all-women shortlist for the by-election to replace Neil Parish in the wake of the porn row.

However, universities minister Michelle Donelan said she did not support all-women shortlists, adding that the best way to get more women into Parliament was by encouragement and breaking down barriers.

The Tory MP told LBC earlier misogyny "isn't a party political issue" and said the allegations are about a "minority" of "misogynistic dinosaurs".

She said they do not represent the majority of members of Parliament, who work "day-in day-out" for their constituents.

LBC has approached Downing Street for comment.