LONDON: British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn got himself into trouble on Wednesday (Dec 19) for apparently muttering "stupid woman" at Prime Minister Theresa May during a heated exchange in parliament over her delaying tactics on Brexit.
The Labour Party leader could be seen appearing to mouth the words in response to May making a joke about his failure to demand a no-confidence vote against her government after he had accused her of leading the country "into a national crisis".
Conservative MPs shouted "disgraceful" when the allegations were first raised after the angry exchanges, and May herself was asked what she thought of the supposed comment.
"I think that everybody in this House, particularly in this 100th year of women getting the vote, should be encouraging women to come into this chamber and to stand in this chamber and should therefore use appropriate language in this chamber when they are referring to female members," she said.
However, a spokesperson for the Labour leader said that Corbyn did not call the prime minister "a stupid woman" but rather muttered "stupid people" in response to the pantomime atmosphere in the House of Commons.
"He did not call her a stupid woman and so I don't think there is any basis for an apology," the spokesman told reporters.
"As I understand it, he said 'stupid people.' It was referring to the remarks about and the exchanges about pantomimes and so on," he said, adding that Corbyn has "no time for" misogynistic abuse.
Several Conservative MPs said the alleged comment was a reflection of abusive language faced by many female politicians and a culture of bullying in parliament that has become a focus for concern in recent months.
Parliament speaker John Bercow said he did not see the incident himself but, if true, the allegation meant that Corbyn would have to apologise in front of parliament.
"It is incumbent upon all members of this House to operate in accordance with its best conversion ... If a member has failed to do so that member has a duty to apologise," he said.
Bercow, who has himself been accusing of bullying and using abusive language, said he would also look at video evidence and seek professional advice on the alleged incident.