UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick denies saying the United Kingdom has "had enough female prime ministers", the Daily Mail reported. "I don’t believe I ever said that. It’s not something I would say and is about as far removed from my own views as is possible", the official was cited by the Daily Mail as saying. His spokesman said the idea that Mr Jenrick could have made such a statement is absurd.
"He’s one of the strongest male advocates for women in Parliament, was Amber’s hugely supportive PPS when she was planning to run for leader and is the father of three daughters, one of whom he even gave the middle name Thatcher to encourage them to reach for the top", the spokesman said.
The story started after former Home Secretary Amber Rudd told activists from the Conservative Party that during the Tory’s leadership contest last year a high-ranking official advised her not to run herself. Rudd claimed the man said there is no need for the party to focus on a female candidate for the post of prime minister after Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher having held the post.
According to the Daily Mail, some Tory MPs are of the opinion that the statement was made by Robert Jenrick. The outlet has contacted Ms Rudd and asked her to comment on the speculations, but the former home secretary declined to do this. "It seems mean to spill that one", she said. When asked whether it was Robert Jenrick, who last year worked as her parliamentary aide, Ms Rudd again declined to answer.
The development comes as Robert Jenrick is embroiled in a cash-for-favours scandal. The official is accused of rushing through a property deal worth more than $1.2 billion. Jenrick approved the development of 1,500 homes in East London despite recommendations by a planning inspector and his officials not do it. The construction was proposed by businessman Richard Desmond and recently it emerged that Jenrick sat at the same table with the businessman during a fundraising event for the Conservative Party, held two months before the housing secretary granted his approval.