Commons ‘like boys’ prep school’ due to ‘willy-waving’ men, says senior Tory woman

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The chair of Westminster’s women and equalities committee has described the atmosphere in the House of Commons as being like “a boys’ prep school”.

Caroline Nokes revealed that she has stopped attending early-morning meetings of Tory MPs because of inappropriate comments and no longer went to the party’s annual conference because of the “horrible” behaviour she experience.

Speaking amid intense debate over misogyny in parliament sparked by the news that Tory Neil Parish watched porn in the Commons chamber, Ms Nokes revealed that she had personally been subjected to male MPs “touching, staring, bullying, trashing my reputation”.

Speaking on the Chopper’s Politics podcast, Ms Nokes criticised a “locker room” culture in the Commons which made it feel like “a boy’s prep school [except] the inmates haven’t quite got to 13”.

“The stark reality is that there is still a culture of banter which in any other workplace would have been stamped out long ago,” she said.

“There have been incidents that I’ve reported to whips. MPs inappropriately touching me. I can remember being bullied by one.”

Ms Nokes added that “horrible things” had happened to her, including “touching, staring, bullying, trashing my reputation”.

Explaining why she no longer attends Conservative annual conference, Ms Nokes said: “I’ve had some horrible, horrible incidents happen there.

“The bars are horrible. The receptions are horrible. I can remember a male parliamentarian touching my arm inappropriately in the breakfast room in the hotel in Birmingham. Just stroked my arm over breakfast. Horrific.”

Ms Nokes said: “There is something about politics that attracts a certain type of particularly macho willy-waving man.

“It is a profession where people who are assertive and domineering are attracted to it. And I think that causes challenges.”

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