International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said male MPs ought to “keep their hands in their pockets”, after admitting a former MP assaulted her.
Quizzed by Sky News today over whether she agreed with Attorney General Suella Braverman that “a very small minority of men [in parliament]…behave like animals”, she explained: “I think all of us as women in Parliament have been subjected to inappropriate language, to wandering hands, that’s what my gran used to call it, it doesn’t change.
“The vast majority of the men I work with are delightful, they are committed parliamentarians, they are passionate about the causes they fight.
“But there are a few for whom too much drink or indeed a sort of view that somehow being elected makes them god’s gift to women that they can suddenly please themselves.
“That is never ok. That kind of behaviour, disrespect for women, and indeed some of the younger women who are not parliamentarians who are part of our parliamentary family, that is never ok. It is never ok anywhere. It is not ok in Westminster either.”
“Fundamentally, if you are a bloke, keep your hands in your pockets and behave as you would if you had your daughter in the room,” she went on.
She also told LBC Radio she had been a victim of misogyny from some colleagues, but that she is “… very comfortable being a strong and forthright, plain speaking woman, called it out when it has come in my direction.”
When asked what specifically occurred that was misogynistic, the minister said: “Well, we might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as, you know, a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I am pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man.
“These sorts of things, the power abuses that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable,” she added.
However, she dismissed calls for a ban on alcohol consumption on the parliamentary estate, amid concerns over inappropriate behaviour.
“Responsible drinking has to be the way forward, and we continue to try and improve that”, she argued.
She hinted to Sky News that the male MP accused of viewing pornography on his phone in the Commons could be sacked, explaining: “It is just completely unacceptable to be, well, A, why has he got the time, B, why does he think that is ok?.”
Quizzed over why the MP, whose name has not been released, still held the Conservative Whip, she summarised: “I haven’t had a chance to talk to the Chief Whip and I know that the ladies in question who apparently saw this completely inappropriate activity have been encouraged to use the formal system in the House of commons to be able to report it and I hope very much that they will or indeed have, I don’t know, and that the system will demonstrate, if that was the case, exactly what the punishment should be for that sort of inappropriate behaviour.”
Trevelyan also stressed that she is “very comfortable calling out anybody who thinks that their wandering hands are ok,” and said she had done so numerous times in the past.
“I will always encourage women to feel empowered to say so publicly but that is difficult for those who are younger and where that power difference is very real.”