Amber Rudd today blamed the ‘sexism’ of male Tory MPs for Theresa May’s failure to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons.
The former Cabinet minister said she had been ‘disappointed’ by the way Mrs May had been ‘forced out by a group of men’.
And she predicted that any agreement Boris Johnson brings back from Brussels will be passed even though it will be ‘similar’.
The bruising accusations against the Eurosceptic ERG group of Tory MPs came in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live.
But ERG chairman Steve Baker dismissed the PM’s gender as ‘irrelevant’, saying he had always been willing to vote for a ‘tolerable’ deal.
Ms Rudd campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum, famously swiping during a TV debate that Mr Johnson was ‘not the man you want to drive you home at the end of the evening’.
She served in Mrs May’s Cabinet and was kept on as Work and Pension Secretary by Mr Johnson this summer.
Amber Rudd told BBC Radio 5 Live (pictured) she had been ‘disappointed’ by the way Theresa May had been ‘forced out by a group of men’
Mrs May (pictured at the Woman of the Year awards in London yesterday) failed three times to get her Brexit deal through Parliament
However, she resigned and gave up the Tory whip in solidarity with Remainers who were excommunicated for rebelling against No Deal.
Asked whether she thought Mrs May’s deal had been rejected because she was a woman, Ms Rudd said: It is difficult not to share that view.’
‘I found it very disappointing, I found it at the time, the way that Theresa May was treated by the largely male group… I must not suggest that the whole ERG is male…
‘But it did feel like we had a second female PM being forced out by a group of men.’
Ms Rudd said the MPs ‘clearly felt that if she had been difficult with the EU’ they would have secured ‘the deal that they wanted’.
Nicola Sturgeon claims ‘cast iron mandate’ for second Scottish independence vote
Nicola Sturgeon today issued a fresh rallying cry for Scottish independence as she claimed the SNP is ‘winning the case’ for a split from the rest of the UK.
The Scottish First Minister told activists at the SNP’s annual conference in Aberdeen that ‘it is time to take charge of our own future’ as she claimed there was a ‘cast iron mandate’ for a second referendum.
She then reiterated her demand for a second vote on independence to take place next year.
Ms Sturgeon also used her address to launch a series of attacks on Boris Johnson’s ‘disastrous’ Brexit strategy as she insisted that a No Deal divorce from the EU was ‘unthinkable’.
The SNP’s bid to secure Scottish independence failed in 2014 as voters backed staying part of the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.
But Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly called for a re-run of the poll and believes that the 2016 Brexit referendum when Scotland voted to Remain in the EU could shift the result in her favour.
‘I think it is going to be similar and they will accept it,’ she added.
Pressed on whether sexism was involved, Ms Rudd said: ‘I think absolutely there was a whiff of sexism.’
She made clear that there also could be an element that Tory MPs had a ‘more trusting relationship’ with Mr Johnson, who spearheaded the EU referendum campaign.
‘But it felt, as a woman who is actively involved in politics, that there was a whiff of sexism,’ Ms Rudd said.
Responding to the comments, Mr Baker tweeted: ‘As I’ve said, I will vote for a tolerable deal. And I’m as ready as ever to vote against an intolerable deal.
‘It all hinges on analysis of the legal text of a proposed deal and its effect. Eurosceptics tend to be tediously meticulous on this point. Gender is irrelevant.’
Mr Johnson submitted a ‘final offer’ on how to replace the Irish border backstop earlier this month but the EU gave the proposals short shrift.
The PM is then believed to have compromised during a meeting with Leo Varadkar last week which resurrected the hopes of a deal being done.
Neither side has said in public exactly what has been put on the table by the PM, or where the EU has said it could budge, but it is thought the PM has put forward a so-called ‘customs partnership’.
This proposal appears to be very similar to plans previously considered, but ultimately rejected, by Theresa May.
Details of the compromise plan put forward by Boris Johnson last week are yet to be confirmed but it is thought the proposed way forward is based on a ‘customs partnership’ between Britain and the EU
Ms Rudd predicted that any agreement Boris Johnson (pictured with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg today) brings back from Brussels will be passed even though it will be ‘similar’
It would involve Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK.
However, the bloc’s tariffs would be collected on goods heading to the province from mainland Britain so that they are all EU compliant when they arrive on the island of Ireland.
If those goods then stayed in Northern Ireland – and within the UK – then the business receiving them would be eligible for a rebate on the EU tariff charged.
With checks having been carried out in the Irish Sea at ports there would be no need for border checks at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and goods could head south with no impediment.
The EU is concerned about the complexity of the plan, the potential for smuggling, and whether technology exists to implement it.