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Jeremy Corbyn condemns Clive Lewis comments as ‘completely unacceptable’

UK News | Published:

Mr Corbyn also faced calls from women and equalities minister Justine Greening to call them out.

Jeremy Corbyn has condemned remarks made by Labour MP Clive Lewis as “completely unacceptable” and revealed the former shadow cabinet member has personally apologised to him.

Jeremy Corbyn condemned remarks made by Labour MP Clive Lewis as
Jeremy Corbyn condemned remarks made by Labour MP Clive Lewis as “completely unacceptable” (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

A video had emerged of the Norwich South MP telling a man at a public event to “get on your knees bitch”, provoking widespread offence among Labour colleagues.

Mr Corbyn also faced calls from women and equalities minister Justine Greening to call them out.

On a visit to Norwich, the Labour leader told BBC Look East: “Completely wrong, should never have said it – completely unacceptable comments.”

He added: “He’s been in touch with me to apologise personally to me, and it’s a message to everybody: this kind of language is not acceptable in any circumstances at any time.”

Asked if the comments pointed to misogyny within the party, he said: “It points to a bad remark he made in particular circumstances.

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“I’m leading a party which has more women MPs than all the others put together, and we have more all-women shortlists for selections coming up.”

Mr Lewis directed the comments at actor Sam Swann, the Independent reported.

Mr Swann told the newspaper the incident was “clearly jovial”.

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But the video of Mr Lewis drew criticism in Labour ranks, with former deputy party leader Harriet Harman tweeting: “Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Dismayed.”

The chairwoman of the women’s parliamentary Labour Party, Jess Phillips, also took to social media to express concern, tweeting: “Just seen the Clive Lewis video. Obviously I am appalled, just listened to 7 teenage girls speak up about gender inequality. Perhaps I’ll bring them to work on Monday.”

Former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper tweeted: “Agree w Jess. No excuse for saying this, whatever context.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy branded the remarks unacceptable.

She tweeted: “It’s not OK. Even if meant as a joke, reinforces menace that men have the physical power to force compliance.”

The event was hosted by Novara Media on the last night of Momentum-backed festival The World Transformed.

Novara’s Ash Sarkar, who compered the event, said she called for a volunteer to keep score in a game show section, and then asked him to kneel down so the cameras had a clear view of the stage.

“He made a little face, and then Clive jokingly said ‘on your knees, bitch’ to him. The joke was delivered in the spirit of campy humour.”

Mr Lewis, who has previously been spoken of as a future Labour leader, quit the frontbench earlier this year when he rebelled against Mr Corbyn and voted against triggering Brexit negotiations.

Meanwhile, some Tory MPs said they would back their colleague Nusrat Ghani’s attempt to force an urgent debate on the issue in the House of Commons on Monday.

Ms Ghani said Mr Lewis had “undermined Parliament” with his remarks.

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