Jeremy Corbyn has slapped down a close ally who re-opened an angry row within Labour over backing for women-only train carriages.
The Labour leader – who hit trouble with his own endorsement of the idea in 2015 – said it was clear segregated trains were a deeply unpopular suggestion and he no longer supported them.
Chris Williamson, the shadow fire minister and a vocal supporter of Mr Corbyn, backed a consultation into women-only carriages this week.
Asked if he would back the policy, Mr Corbyn told the Huffington Post: ‘No. It was there [during his leadership campaign] as a discussion item which was taken out of context.
‘The response was that people don’t want them: end of.’
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in Glasgow yesterday) has slapped down a close ally who re-opened an angry row within Labour over backing for women-only train carriages.
MPs Stella Creasy (left) and Jess Philips (right) have condemned Labour shadow minister Chris Williamson for suggesting women-only train carriages could be considered
Mr Williamson was shot down by senior female Labour MPs who accused him of taking his feminist cues from Saudi Arabia.
Mr Williamson said the idea ‘would be worth consulting’ on after statistics revealed a surge in assaults against female passengers.
But the shadow minster was slammed by MPs Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips who warned segregation could make the problem worse.
Figures revealed by the BBC last month showed 1,448 sexual offences on UK trains were reported in 2016-17 – up from 650 in 2012-2013.
Mr Williamson told Politics Home: ‘It would be worth consulting about it. It was pooh-poohed (when Jeremy Corbyn suggested it), but these statistics seem to indicate there is some merit in examining that.
Mr Williamson said the idea ‘would be worth consulting’ on after statistics revealed a surge in assaults against female passengers
‘Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years.
‘I’m not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space. It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it.’
After his remarks, Walthamstow MP Ms Creasy tweeted: ‘Hi @DerbyChrisW can we make all carriages safe for all passengers rather than restricting where we can go?
‘It’s not us, it’s them honest.’
In a series of Twitter posts, Ms Creasy said the focus should be on making all carriages safe and not telling women where to sit
The two MPs continued to clash over the issue which is a revival of an earlier row on the subject triggered by Jeremy Corbyn
Mr Williamson insisted this was a misrepresentation of his position as the two MPs exchanged tweets.
He said: ‘I didn’t suggest restrictions Stella merely consulting on offering a choice in view of the statistics showing increased attacks.’
But Ms Creasy told him: ‘Why don’t we consult on men only carriages and those men who sit elsewhere risk police caution for harassment?
‘That would be a choice.’
Birmingham Yardley MP Ms Phillips weighed in to brand the idea ‘absolutely terrible’ and a surrender to perpetrators
Ms Phillips said the issue was about power and not that individual men were unable to control themselves
Ms Phillips jibed that Mr Williamson was taking ‘feminist cues from Saudi Arabia’
Birmingham Yardley MP Ms Phillips offered her own ‘hot take’ to Mr Williamson.
She said: ‘Absolutely terrible idea. It is essentially giving up on trying to prosecute assaults.
‘Also men should be incredibly annoyed they can’t control themselves.
‘Sexual violence isn’t about urges it’s about power.
‘If you take your feminist cues from Saudi Arabia you’ve gone wrong.’
In 2015, Mr Corbyn triggered a row on the same subject.
He said: ‘My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform to the bus stop to the mode of transport itself.
‘However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and [on] modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.’