There were gasps in the House of Commons yesterday (15 November) after a male Tory MP suggested to three female Labour frontbenchers that they “shut up”.
The women, Sarah Owen, Lisa Nandy and Paula Barker were left visibly horrified at the comment, leading Paul Howell, the MP for Sedgefield, to apologise almost immediately.
During the debate, Howell accused Labour of “scaremongering” the nation over the mini-budget that prompted former PM Liz Truss’s demise and said it was “wholly inappropriate” to make the public think the economic situation is “worse than it is”.
MPs were there to debate on the recent controversial topic of Truss being entitled to receive a payment of £18,860 as a severance payment.
Similarly, Kwasi Kwarteng, who was chancellor for just 38 days before he was sacked, is also in line to receive £16,876 – By law, any minister is entitled to a quarter of their annual salary if they are not given a new role within three weeks. Howell said: “When it comes to the point that has been raised with reference to severance payments, severance payments are statutory. It is wholly inappropriate for political intervention on those.”
Tory MP Paul Howell apologises after suggesting Labour frontbenchers should "shut up". pic.twitter.com/6F1EdzqHEz
— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) November 15, 2022
He then added: “I think it is up to the individual if they want to choose not to take it because they think it is inappropriate, then they can make those decisions.”
One of the Labour MPs could be heard saying: “But what do you think?” to which Howell replied, “What do I think? I think it depends on the individual.”
The heated conversation only went further when Howell followed with his comment: “You have chirped and talked. Do you want to hear or do you want to shut up?”
He immediately gave his apologies to the Deputy Commons Speaker, Nigel Evans, when the three women gasped at the remark. Nigel Evans accepted the apology but reminded the room that “this isn’t a chat, this is a debate.”
Shadow minister Sarah Owen later said: “When he tells us to ‘shut up’, no… When people in this country are suffering, when people in this country cannot afford their bills, and when people in this country cannot get onto the housing ladder, no.
“I will never shut up, because they crashed the economy and we will always and proudly be on the side of ordinary working people. Perhaps maybe he should go away and learn some manners.”
Twitter users made their thoughts known too, with mixed reviews appearing under the video showing the short moment. One person Tweeted: “Integrity, professionalism and accountability hasn’t lasted very long has it.”
Someone else wrote: “THAT TREATMENT of you and fellow female colleagues is disgraceful. I'm not sure an apology should be enough!!!”
Others said the women were “in the wrong” for interrupting while someone else pointed out the atmosphere in the room overall: “A debate? Where is everyone?”
You Might Also Like