British Prime Minister Boris Johnson received backlash for comments he uttered during his first Prime Minister’s Questions session on Wednesday, after he appeared to have called opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn a “big girl’s blouse.”
The term “big girl’s blouse” has traditionally been used as an insult toward men to imply weakness, cowardice or effeminacy, according to the BBC.
The phrase was previously made popular thanks to British comedian Hylda Baker in the ’60s.
The insult was prompted after Corbyn said Johnson was “desperate, absolutely desperate to avoid scrutiny” after he asked the prime minister to publish details of his no-deal Brexit plans.
Johnson appeared to have responded, “call an election, you great big girl’s blouse.”
The prime minister faced immediate criticism on social media, with many calling him homophobic, sexist and misogynistic.
This wasn’t the first time Johnson’s called someone the term however.
The Guardian reported that he had named the Labour party’s election campaign chief a “big girl’s blouse” in 2017 and in 2007.
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Corbyn himself was accused of sexism when during a clash with ex-prime minister Theresa May, he was seen muttering the words “stupid woman” under his breath in response to May, BBC News reported.
Corbyn denied the claims, and insisted that he had uttered the words “stupid people,” after the alleged comment prompted backlash and calls for a public apology from other MPs.
A refusal to apologize
Later during the PMQ, Johnson would also refuse to apologize for comments he made in a 2018 column for The Telegraph about the Danish burka ban, in which he compared women wearing them to letterboxes and bank robbers, despite saying that full-face veils should not be banned.
“So rather than hide behind sham, and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologize for his derogatory and racist remarks,” said Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the Labour party MP who brought up Johnson’s comments.
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Johnson responded that the comment was made in support of Muslim women, and that he himself had Muslim ancestors and was related to Sikhs.
“If he took the trouble to read the article in question, he would see that it was a strong liberal defence as he began his question by saying of everybody’s rights to wear whatever they want in this country, and I speak as somebody who’s not only proud to have Muslim ancestors but to be related to Sikhs such as himself,” he said.
Muslim abuse monitoring group Tell MAMA published a report Monday, indicating a spike in anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse specifically following Johnson’s comments.
Later on Wednesday, lawmakers defeated Johnson’s call for a snap election on Oct. 15 in a decisive vote.
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The defeat was one three that Johnson encountered in two days, amid his push to leave the European Union by Oct. 31, with or without a Brexit deal.
Tuesday saw him lose his first House of Commons vote as prime minister, where lawmakers passed a vote enabling a push for a bill to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Lawmakers approved that bill the following day.
— With files from The Associated Press