Jeremy Corbyn denies calling Theresa May 'stupid woman' during PMQs

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Jeremy Corbyn has refuted claims he called Theresa May a "stupid woman" during Prime Minister's Questions, after he saw himself become embroiled in a misogyny row.

The Labour leader was shown saying something under his breath after Mrs May likened his attempt to force a confidence vote in her earlier this week to a Christmas pantomime.

Making a jibe at Mr Corbyn and accusing him of dithering over calling a no confidence vote in the Government, Mrs May said: "He's going to put a confidence vote. Oh yes he is! Oh no he isn't! I've got some advice... look behind you."

As Mrs May returned to her seat, Mr Corbyn was seen mouthing a response.

However, speaking in the Commons later on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn denied the claims and said his words were "stupid people", referring "to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime".

The Labour leader said he "did not use the words 'stupid woman' about the Prime Minister, or anyone else".

The 69-year-old continued: "During Prime Minister's Question Time today, I referred to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as 'stupid people'.

"Mr Speaker I did not use the words 'stupid woman' about the Prime Minister or anyone else, and am completely opposed to the use of sexist or misogynist language in absolutely any form at all."

Since Mr Corbyn's alleged comments were made under his breath, Mrs May did not appear to be immediately aware of them.

It was only when the Prime Minister was asked whether it was "appropriate language to call people 'stupid women' in this Chamber?" that members of her Cabinet clustered around her and appeared to explain what they believed had happened, with one pointing to the Labour benches, at which point Mrs May could be heard exclaiming "really?".

In response to the question, Mrs May said: "I think that everybody in this House, particularly in this 100th year anniversary of women getting the vote, should be aiming to encourage women to come into this Chamber, and to stand in this Chamber, and should therefore use appropriate language in this Chamber when they are referring to female Members."

The Labour leader's apparent comments united both sides of the Commons, with both Tory and Labour MPs accusing Mr Corbyn of "misogyny" and calling for him to apologise.

Conservative Party Chair Brandon Lewis called the alleged remarks "shocking" and "unacceptable in any environment".

While Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has talked publicly about misogynist abuse she has faced on social media, wrote on Twitter: "This is not OK.

"PMQs is a hotbed of emotions but I hope that Jeremy will accept this kind of behaviour isn't his normal good nature or what we expect of progressive men #21stcenturycalling".

MPs attempt to show Mr Bercow video of Mr Corbyn's apparent remarks on a mobile phone. Credit: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy UK Parliament handout

Commons Speaker John Bercow did not initially see Mr Corbyn's comments and so examined video evidence.

Reporting back to the Chamber on Wednesday afternoon, the Speaker said that after watching the footage, any comments made by Mr Corbyn were "not audible" and since he did not see or hear the incident, nor did the clerks or his private secretary, he could not be "100% certain" what had been said.

Mr Bercow continued that he would "take the word" of Mr Corbyn, who has denied the allegations made against him.

This prompted the Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, to make a point of order, telling the Chamber she was "deeply disappointed" that Mr Corbyn had not apologised to the Prime Minister.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ms Leadsom made another point of order, tackling Mr Bercow over allegations he called her a "stupid woman" in May.

"If individuals who are found to have made unwelcome remarks should apologise, why it is that when an opposition member found that you had called me a 'stupid woman', you did not apologise in this chamber?" Ms Leadsom asked the Speaker.

After repeated jeers and banging from Tory MPs, Mr Bercow said: "No no I'll deal with the point.

"I dealt with that point months ago in remarks that I made to the House of Commons to which Ms Leadsom in our various meetings since has made no reference and which requires from the chair today no elaboration whatsoever."

The Speaker added that "the matter has been treated of and I am leaving it there".