UK Politics

David Davis criticised for 'sexist' Diane Abbott text

David Davis and Diane Abbott Image copyright PA

A Labour peer has branded David Davis "sexist" for reportedly sending a text saying he would not hug shadow home secretary Diane Abbott because he was "not blind".

Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti said she was "disappointed" in the Brexit secretary.

The text followed an incident between Mr Davis and Ms Abbott in a Commons bar after last week's Brexit vote.

His spokeswoman said he was "very sorry" for any offence caused.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr Davis had tried to kiss and hug Ms Abbott after Wednesday's vote on triggering Article 50, in which she backed the government despite voicing her misgivings over Brexit.

Ms Abbott reportedly swore at Mr Davis in response.

The paper claimed that, afterwards, the Brexit secretary exchanged texts with a Conservative colleague who said that he could not believe Mr Davis tried to give Ms Abbott a hug.

In reply, Mr David reportedly said he hadn't, but had "whispered in her ear" to say "Thanks for your vote".

He then allegedly added: "I am not blind."


Labour MP Chuka Umunna told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "I think it's sexist, I think it's misogynistic...

"This type of behaviour has absolutely no place in the Conservative Party or British politics full stop."

And Lady Chakrabarti told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "Diane Abbott and David Davis were once on the same side on some really important civil liberties issues in this country and he should show her more respect."

She added: "David Davis was very silly. He was sexist and he was patronising and let's just say, Diane is not someone who would have her hand patted by Donald Trump or David Davis or anybody else."

A spokesman for the Brexit secretary said: "This was a self-evidently jocular and private exchange with a friend.

"The secretary of state is very sorry for any offence caused to Miss Abbott, someone he has known and respected for many years."

Mr Davis's Conservative colleague, House of Commons leader David Lidington, told the same programme: "It does sound to me like the sort of thing that is said in the rugby club bar rather than the House of Commons.

"David Davis's spokesperson has apologised to Diane Abbott on behalf of David Davis, so plainly he did send the texts. Plainly he's embarrassed by them. David appears to accept he's made a misjudgement. We move on."