Jeremy Corbyn had been peppering Theresa May with hostile questions about her decision last week to postpone a vital parliamentary vote on Brexit.
LONDON: Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn became the latest British politician to get the lip-readers scrambling when he appeared to mouth the words “stupid woman” after a lively exchange in parliament with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Corbyn’s remark was captured by television cameras after the question-and-answer session that British leaders have to endure every Wednesday.
Corbyn had been peppering May with hostile questions about her decision last week to postpone a vital parliamentary vote on a long-awaited divorce deal with the European Union.
In reply, May had suggested Corbyn might not enjoy the support of his own lawmakers over the EU and, taking a well-worn line from Christmas pantomimes, had said: “I’ve got some advice for the Right Honourable Gentleman – look behind you!
“They are not impressed and neither is the country!”
Corbyn then shook his head and appeared to mutter “stupid woman” under his breath.
Alerted to the incident, May later told lawmakers
“I think that everybody in this house – particularly in this 100th anniversary of women getting the vote – should be aiming to encourage women to come into this Chamber .. And should therefore use appropriate language.”
Corbyn, however, has denied reports of him calling PM May “a stupid woman” under his breath in parliament. His spokesperson has argued that Corbyn muttered “stupid people” in response to the pantomime atmosphere in the House of Commons.
“He did not call her a stupid woman and so I don’t think there is any basis for an apology,” the spokesman told reporters.
“As I understand it, he said ‘stupid people.’ It was referring to the remarks about and the exchanges about pantomimes and so on,” he said, adding that Corbyn had “not time for” misogynistic abuse.
Lip readers were called in earlier this month to decipher what May herself said in an apparently ill-tempered exchange with European Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.
They reported that May was berating Juncker for apparently having called her Brexit plans “nebulous.”
It was not the first time that a row had blown up over the alleged use of the “stupid woman” phrase in parliament.
In June John Bercow, the Speaker of the lower House of Commons, was alleged to have applied it to cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom.