BBC broadcaster Steph McGovern has apologised after making what she has described as a “light-hearted” remark following a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Moments after Mr Johnson had spoken at an event called the Convention of the North held in the town of Rotherham, Miss McGovern appeared on stage and sarcastically declared to the audience:
“Thank you very much there to our Northern Powerhouse minister and the Prime Minister there. Can you just put your hands together to say thanks to them? I’d just like to point out - I am a girly swot and I’m proud of it. Let’s see who’s in their job the longest.”
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) September 13, 2019
McGovern’s off-the-cuff remarks aroused a round of applause among the crowd and came hot on the heels of revelations that Boris Johnson had reportedly referred to former Prime Minister David Cameron as a “girly swot” multiple times in the past. It emerged last week that Mr Johnson had also written the same comment about Mr Cameron on a private Cabinet paper.
Despite having her apparently spontaneous remark met with strident laughter from the audience, Miss McGovern later took to Twitter to issue an apology after some allegedly found her comment frustrating.
“At a non BBC event I was hosting today, I made a light hearted remark after the Prime Minister’s speech. Sorry that this caused offence to some. That was absolutely not my intention,” she said.
However, support for Miss McGovern came thick and fast.
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) 13 September 2019
— Geoffrey Best (@geoffrey_best) 13 September 2019
— Sharon (@shazxraz) 14 September 2019
— Richard Osman (@richardosman) 13 September 2019
— LUCY PRIOR MBE (@LUCYLucyprior) 13 September 2019
The news came just days after the Prime Minister had used similar language while in the Commons, describing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “big girl’s blouse” because of his decision not to support a general election while the risk of a no-deal Brexit exists.
A number of female MPs came out in condemnation of Mr Johnson’s comments.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper slammed Mr Johnson for his language, saying, “The Prime Minister of Great Britain thinks he’s still back at Eton - ‘girly swot,’ ‘big girl’s blouse’ - what century is he in if the world ‘girl’ is one of his staple insults?"
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) September 6, 2019
Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow ‘Woman and Equalities’ Minister has also waded into the debate by saying, “whether it's references to a 'big girl's blouse' or a 'girly swot', these comments expose Boris Johnson's problem with women.”