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Did UK Opposition leader call PM May "stupid woman"? Corbyn says no

PTI London
Updated: 19-12-2018 21:17 IST

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn was accused of being a sexist and a misogynist and faced calls on Wednesday to apologise for apparently calling embattled Prime Minister Theresa May a "stupid woman" as they clashed in Parliament over her controversial Brexit deal.

The incident happened days after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he did not personally insult Prime Minister May by calling her "nebulous" after footage emerged of a fiery clash between him and her in Brussels over a supposed jibe.

The May-Corbyn clash took place during the Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons over her Brexit deal, calling her decision last week to delay a vote on it a "deeply cynical manoeuvre" from a "failing" prime minister.

May, 62, hit back at Corbyn, 69, saying he had not tabled his promised no-confidence motion, and had then tabled one that was ineffective.

"I know it's the... pantomime season," she told MPs, "is he going to put a confidence vote? Oh yes he is," she said, prompting backbench Tories MPs to chant "oh no he isn't".

Continuing the pantomime theme, she told the Labour leader "look behind you - they are not impressed and neither is the country".

Corbyn could be seen saying something under his breath in response.

Former minister Patrick McLoughlin used a point of order to accuse Corbyn of having "muttered" that May was a "stupid woman" .

Conservative MPs called on Corbyn to be ordered to apologise.

Speaker John Bercow said he had not seen the alleged incident and so could not "immediately" rule on it.

A spokesman for Corbyn said: "He did not call her a stupid woman and so I don't think there's any basis for an apology. As I understand it, he said 'stupid people'."

The spokesman said Corbyn was referring generally to MPs who were not taking the issues being debated seriously.

Asked about lip readers saying that Corbyn had said "stupid woman" , he added: "Lip reading is open to doubt - he is adamant he didn't say it."

The Labour leader had "no time for misogynistic statements", the spokesman said, after some Conservatives accused Corbyn of being sexist.

The row continued after Prime Minister's Questions, with a string of female Conservative MPs joining in with calls for an apology.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom turned on the Speaker himself, reminding Bercow of his failure to apologise to her for calling her a "stupid woman" during an incident earlier this year. Bercow said he had already dealt with that matter.

He repeatedly insisted he wanted to see the evidence before "pronouncing" on Corbyn's "innocence or guilt".

Tory MP Caroline Johnson said the issue had caused "significant upset" and asked when the Speaker would respond.

Bercow said her request was "reasonable" and he would respond later on Wednesday.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said: "Sexism in any work place is not acceptable and it is time Jeremy Corbyn left the 1980s behind.

"Young women from up and down the country will have watched this exchange today and it is no surprise so many of them are put off participating in politics. If the allegations are true, Jeremy Corbyn must apologise," she said.

Prime Minister May survived a separate no-confidence vote tabled by members of her own Conservative Party last week but she came out of the process badly bruised.

The deadlock has raised the prospects of either a second referendum or of a no-deal Brexit when the negotiating time with the European Union runs out on March 29 next year.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)