Minister says she would have ‘slapped’ Stanley Johnson if he had inappropriately


Cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said she probably would have “slapped” Stanley Johnson if he inappropriately touched her in the way alleged by Conservative colleague Caroline Nokes.

Labour has urged the Conservative Party to launch an investigation after a senior Tory MP and a journalist both accused Boris Johnson’s father of inappropriately touching them.

Caroline Nokes, who is the chair of the parliamentary women and equalities committee, said he forcefully smacked her on the backside at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.

Her allegation prompted political journalist Ailbhe Rea to say she was “groped” by the former MEP at the party conference in 2019.

Ms Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, said on Wednesday that she hoped Ms Nokes would be able to “work” with the Tory party on her allegation.

Asked on Sky News what she would have done in response to the alleged touching, Ms Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “At the time, I would have probably slapped him.”

She added: “Which arguably isn’t a better response either, but it would’ve been an instinctive response from me and I think Caroline would’ve shown great personal restraint if she quietly moved away.”

Mr Johnson, 81, has said he has “no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all”. The Tory Party is yet to say whether a probe will be launched and No 10 declined to comment on the allegations against the “private individual”.

Asked if Mr Johnson should be investigated, Ms Trevelyan said: “I will leave Caroline to work with the party on that. But we have a robust system in place and I hope very much she’ll be able to work that through with the party machine.”

The trade minister also revealed that she had been subjected to inappropriate touching in the past. “I’m of an age where you’d sit down at dinner and a hand would suddenly appear on my knee,” she said.

“You’d be like, ‘Excuse me, gentleman on my left who I don’t know – could you remove your hand from my knee?’ That sort of casual sexism was not uncommon. It is much less common know, thank goodness.”

Ms Trevelyan: “Anyone woman who receives that sort of abusive behaviour, absolutely should feel confident she can stand up and both face them down and also have the support of those around her to make sure the abuser in question does not do that. It is not acceptable.”

Ms Nokes, chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, suggested the prime minister’s father inappropriately touched her during the 2003 conference in Blackpool.

At the time, she was preparing for the campaign to represent the Hampshire constituency of Romsey during the 2005 election. “I can remember a really prominent man smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, ‘Oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat’,” she told Sky News.

On Tuesday, following widespread support for speaking out, Ms Nokes tweeted: “Just wanted to thank the sisterhood for the solidarity and support today. You know who you are and you’re amazing.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has praised Ms Nokes’ “bravery” for speaking out, and suggested an investigation should be carried out.

“The allegations are serious and they need to be fully investigated, I don’t think at this stage it’s for me to say what should happen as a result,” Sir Keir said at a press conference on tackling sleaze in politics.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “I’m not going to be drawn into specific allegations against a private individual. Of course we would want anyone in any circumstance who feels they have been a victim of any kind of harassment to come forward and report them to the appropriate authorities.”

Read More:Minister says she would have ‘slapped’ Stanley Johnson if he had inappropriately

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