Caroline Nokes fires broadside at women in Boris Johnson's government

Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes fires broadside at women in Boris Johnson’s government as she says there are ‘serious questions’ over the ‘calibre’ of females invited into top roles

  • Caroline Nokes railed against the ‘blokey mentality’ pervading PM’s Cabinet
  • Of the 26 Cabinet attendees in Boris Johnson’s Government, only six are women
  • Ms Nokes said they have appeared to take a back seat throughout the pandemic 

A senior Tory MP today appeared to take a veiled swipe at the female ministers in Cabinet by raising questions about the ‘calibre’ of women in top jobs.

Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, also railed against the ‘blokey mentality’ pervading Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

Of the 26 Cabinet attendees, only six are women – Priti Patel, Therese Coffey, Liz Truss, Baroness Evans, Amanda Milling and Suella Braverman.

And they have taken a back seat to their male colleagues throughout the pandemic, according to Ms Nokes, a former immigration minister in Theresa May’s Cabinet.

Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, railed against the ‘blokey mentality’ pervading Boris Johnson’s Cabinet

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs the weekly Cabinet Meeting over Zoom from No 10 this week

She told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: ‘I’ve been pointing out since the start of the pandemic how few women are sat around the Cabinet table, how their voices are not being played into debates and decisions that the Government is making.’

She added: ‘I think there are some serious challenges around the calibre of women that you invite into your Cabinet and that you make sure that their voices are heard.’

The Prime Minister has been accused of having a ‘blind spot’ as the ministers fronting No10 coronavirus briefings have been heavily skewed toward the men. 

Ms Nokes said: ‘I think it’s still a very blokey mentality at the very top. 

‘I don’t think that we’re done many favours by the predominance of single sex education round the Cabinet table.

‘And I think it’s really important that there’s much more recognition, we need more women in Parliament across every party, we need more women in Government and we need to be prepared to listen to their opinions and act upon them.’  

It ended disastrously for Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Coffey last month when she terminated her GMB interview during a grilling from Piers Morgan

And Care Minister Helen Whately was savaged on the same show at the start of the pandemic upon claims that she smiled when confronted with grim death figures

Ms Patel, who as Home Secretary is the only woman to hold one of the four great offices of state, has done the most media duties but still considerably less than her other most senior cabinet colleagues

The six women in Cabinet

Some 26 ministers are in the Cabinet or are classed as ‘attending Cabinet’.

But of them just six are women, less than a quarter.

They are:

Priti Patel – Home Secretary

Liz Truss – Intentional Trade Secretary

Therese Coffey – Work and pensions Secretary

Baroness Evans – Leader of the Lords

Amanda Milling – Minister without Portfolio (also Conservative Party co-chairwoman)

Suella Braverman – Attorney General (attends Cabinet)

Downing Street is understood to want to squash such accusations by putting up more female Government ministers for broadcast interviews.

A Tory peer suggested to MailOnline a few months ago that the Government is lacking a strong selection of media performers.

It ended disastrously for Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Coffey last month when she terminated her GMB interview during a grilling from Piers Morgan.

And Care Minister Helen Whately was savaged on the same show at the start of the pandemic upon claims that she smiled when confronted with grim death figures.

Ms Whately strongly denied the accusation and said could not see the newspaper front page Morgan was showing – but the hapless clip still went viral. 

Ms Patel, who as Home Secretary is the only woman to hold one of the four great offices of state, has done the most media duties but still considerably less than her other most senior cabinet colleagues – the PM, Rishi Sunak and Dominic Raab.  

Ms Nokes’ remarks came after her committee published a report that raised concerns that priorities for the economic recovery after coronavirus are skewed towards male-dominated sectors, with ‘build, build, build’ rhetoric and images of high-vis jackets and hard hats.

Responding to the report, the PM’s official spokesman said: ‘The contribution that women make to the economy is crucial, which is why we set out an unprecedented offer of support, which includes help for the sectors that women are more likely to be employed in, protection for female-led start-ups and new childcare support.

‘I would also point to the furlough system and the fast that that has ensured support for many female workers up and down the country. We also recognise the vital role that women as well as men have played as parents throughout the pandemic, given that schools have had to close.

‘I would point tot he range of support the chancellor has made available to everyone across the country throughout the pandemic.’

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