Boris Johnson’s controversial comments on Muslim women were “really ill judged”, says a former Tory minister.
The PM came under fire in 2018 after he wrote an article comparing women in burkas to letterboxes and bank robbers.
Caroline Nokes – who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee – said the PM should “think very carefully” about his words and their impact.
She also compared Parliament to a “boys’ prep school”, and said working there is “turning me into a feminist”.
In an interview with The House Magazine, the former immigration minister under Theresa May, said the article on Muslim women was the incident that “stands out”.
She added: “I have always held the view that it’s not for any man to tell any woman what she should wear – advice that I would sometimes shout at my own father when he comments on what I’m wearing.
“But I think the prime minister’s choice of words when grabbing headlines and being a newspaper columnist were unfortunate.”
Mr Johnson repeatedly refused to apologise for the article, claiming his comments were taken out of context.
But during the 2019 election campaign, he said he was “sorry for any offence I have caused”.
During the interview, Ms Nokes also criticised the Parliament for being like a public school “where the inmates haven’t quite got to 13”.
She said entering Westminster was a “real shock to the system”, adding: “If Parliament wants to take credit for one thing that it has done for me over the course of the last 10 years, it is turning me into a feminist.
“Maybe I had just been lucky before coming here, but suddenly you sort of become confronted with some really outdated attitudes, and some really challenging behaviours.”
But Ms Nokes also said the UK as a whole had become less tolerant.
“I think it’s incumbent upon government, it’s incumbent upon the education system, it’s incumbent upon all of us to be more tolerant, and to be more understanding,” she added.
“We’re really good as a country at having some national outpourings of grief and upset over high profile things, but actually that massive increase in hate crimes towards people from LGBTQ perspectives, from disabled people, from different ethnicities is just horrific.”