Speaker John Bercow accused Boris Johnson of sexism today in an extraordinary Commons clash.
Mr Bercow lashed out at the Foreign Secretary after he referred to Emily Thornberry as ‘Lady something’ in the chamber.
Mrs Thornberry technically holds the title as her High Court judge husband Sir Christopher Nugee has a knighthood.
But the Speaker branded Mr Johnson’s jibe ‘inappropriate and frankly sexist’.
The Foreign Secretary referred to his Labour counterpart Emily Thornberry as ‘Lady something’ in the chamber
Speaker John Bercow accused Boris Johnson of sexism today in an extraordinary Commons clash
As some Labour MPs applauded, he said: ‘First of we all, we don’t name call in this chamber…
‘Secondly, we do not address people by the titles of their spouses. The shadow foreign secretary has a name and it’s not Lady Something.
‘We know what her name is and it is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms.
‘That is the end of the matter. No matter how senior a member, that parlance is not legitimate, it will not be allowed and it will be called out. I require no chuntering from a sedentary position from any occupant of the Treasury bench.’
Mr Johnson ‘apologised unreservedly’ for ‘any inadvertent sexism or discourtesy that you may have deemed me to have been guilty of’.
The row began when Mr Johnson criticised the Opposition for giving too little importance to the Commonwealth ahead of a major summit in London next month.
Mr Johnson said: “That’s their attitude, isn’t that extraordinary, this is an institution… say no says the noble and learned Lady Baroness whatever it is I can’t remember what it is….Nugee.
“What an extraordinary thing, this is an institution that encompasses 2.4 billion people, some of the fastest growing economies in the world and we have an unrivalled opportunity to embrace them here in London and we’re going to do it.”
After being rebuked by Mr Bercow, he said: ‘I heartily tender my apologies to (Emily Thornberry) if she was offended by what I said and I meant no harm, and I apologise unreservedly to her if I have offended the feelings of (Ms Thornberry).’
Mrs Thornberry (pictured centre in blue) technically holds the title Lady Nugee as her High Court judge husband Sir Christopher Nugee has a knighthood
The spat erupted during Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons today
Foreign Office minister Harriett Baldwin later defended Mr Johnson saying he did not have a ‘sexist bone in his body’.
Ms Baldwin, who made the comment while answering a question on promoting education across the globe, said: ‘As a passionate feminist and without a sexist bone in his body, the Foreign Secretary is an advocate for education and has discussed with the Secretary of State for International Development and the Secretary of State for Education among others.’
Speaker John Bercow responded: ‘I know she won’t take it amiss, but the Foreign Secretary doesn’t need to be defended by her and I know she wouldn’t argue with the chair, she’d come off rather worse.’