Boris Johnson: Tory government will help women 'reach full potential'

28 November 2019, 00:18

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Nancy Astor
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Nancy Astor. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Boris Johnson is aiming for half of future Tory general election candidates to be women in the "biggest drive" of female member, activist and candidate recruitment.

The Prime Minister said a Conservative majority government “will support women to reach their full potential.”

His comments come on the 100th anniversary of Nancy Astor becoming the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament.

Mrs Astor represented Plymouth for the Conservative Party, and a statue of her will be unveiled in the city on Thursday.

The Prime Minister said: "When Nancy Astor entered Parliament 100 years ago, she was a trailblazer, ripping up the conventions that held women back from joining the workplace.

"A Conservative majority government will support women to reach their full potential - be that in the workplace, by opening up new opportunities to work flexibly or start their own business, or through our work internationally to make sure all young women get 12 years of education.

"The Conservative Party has a proud history supporting women in public life, and we have recently seen more women in work than ever before.

"This is fantastic news for employers as the pool of skills and talent broadens and deepens.

"It is imperative that the Conservative Party benefits from this pool of talent in the same way as other employers. Whilst we might have led the way in terms of female representation, it is vital we keep that up.

"That is why I am committing to the biggest drive of female member, activist and candidate recruitment, and why it is my ambition that half of Conservative candidates on our list for future parliamentary elections are women.

"I have often said that talent and brilliance is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. I will make sure that women are supported to take up the opportunities that politics present."

But the Labour Party has criticised Mr Johnson's attitude towards women, highlighting comments he made in articles written in the 1990s which Labour says are "sexist and misogynistic".

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour's shadow attorney general, said: "Someone whose attitudes towards women are straight out of the dark ages is not fit to be prime minister of our country."

It emerged in September that Mr Johnson wrote that David Cameron is a "girly swot" on a private Cabinet paper.

It came days after Mr Johnson used similar language in the Commons, calling Jeremy Corbyn a "big girl's blouse" over the Labour leader's decision not to back the PM's bid for an election while the risk of a no-deal Brexit remained.