PM in 'blind spot' row over lack of female ministers

Where are the women Boris? PM accused of having a ‘blind spot’ as NO female Cabinet ministers have led a coronavirus press conference for almost SEVEN MONTHS

  • Priti Patel was the last senior woman in the PM’s top team to lead TV briefing
  • Home Secretary made appearance on May 22, nearly seven months ago
  • One Tory peer said there were few good female performers in the Cabinet
  • But they told MailOnline: ‘There has clearly been a problem’

Boris Johnson was facing questions about his support for his female ministers as it was revealed none have led a coronavirus press conference in the past six months. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel was the last senior woman in the PM’s top team to lead one of the set-piece televised briefings, on May 22.

Ms Patel did the standard round of ministerial media interviews today – the first time the daily appearances by a top minister had been carried out by a woman in the past five weeks. 

One veteran Tory peer told MailOnline that part of the problem was Boris Johnson did not have enough female ministers who perform well on TV – partly because many, such as Amber Rudd and Margot James, had departed amid the Brexit civil war.

The peer said the issue for No10 had been deciding ‘who is not controversial, and who do you want to hide’.

However, they said that was not enough to explain the absence of women from briefings and broadcast.

‘There has clearly been a problem because if you were avoiding controversy you would avoid Robert Jenrick,’ they sad.  

Home Secretary Priti Patel was the last senior woman in the PM’s top team to lead one of the set-piece televised briefings, on May 22 (pictured) 

Ms Patel did the standard round of ministerial media interviews today – the first time the daily appearances by a top minister had been carried out by a woman in the past five weeks

One veteran Tory peer told MailOnline that part of the problem was Boris Johnson did not have enough female ministers who perform well on TV

A Tory peer suggested Crime Minister  Victoria Atkins was not being used because she ‘she doesn’t get on with a certain lady in No10’

The senior Conservative suggested Social Care Minister Helen Whately’s ‘tic’ of laughing at difficult questions had been a problem when she was deployed.

‘I am surprised about Helen. She has a medical background and so does understand the issues,’ they said.

‘I have a lot of time for her. It is a mannerism.’

On Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, they said: ‘She is awful on TV. She is a nightmare. Although she has a very sharp brain.’

The well-connected peer added: ‘I am told there is some problem between the PM and Victoria Atkins… she doesn’t get on with a certain lady in No10.’

Boris Johnson’s administration held daily press conferences at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, before they were scaled back to occasional events late in the summer. 

But as the second wave grew they were brought back to ad-hoc events, up to twice a week.

However, they have not been led by a female minister for almost seven months, according to a Guardian tally. 

Ms Patel was the last to do so, on May 22. 

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative former minister who chairs the Commons women and equalities committee, told the Guardian Downing Street ‘has a blind spot when it comes to using female ministers to get its messages across’. 

‘Whatever the issue, the first port of call is always a male minister. I don’t know why that is – there are many really competent female ministers but the media team either forget they exist or just prefer to use men.’ 

It came as Equalities Minister Liz Truss prepared to condemn what she sees as a  focus on ‘fashionable’ race and gender issues.

In a radical shift, she will say the state’s agenda has been too ‘narrow’ and ‘ignored’ other crucial ways in which the country is not fair. 

She will vow that in future the government will promote ‘opportunity’ by tackling poverty and the North-South divide.

Setting out a new ‘Conservative values’ approach in a speech to a think-tank, she is expected to dismiss quotas, targets, and unconscious bias training as ‘tools of the Left’ that ‘do nothing to fix systems’. 

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