'Sexist' Vaz accused over tweet
Published 13/02/2013 | 18:56
A senior Labour backbencher has been accused of sexism after suggesting Cabinet minister Theresa May was "looking a bit thin".
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, made the controversial comment in a post on Twitter.
"A bit worried about Home Secretary she is looking a bit thin these days. A new diet or pressure of work?" he wrote.
But speaking on BBC Radio 4's PM programme, Tory MP Caroline Nokes condemned the remark as "silly" and "patronising".
"I though it was rather silly and thoughtless remark from Keith," she said. "I know Keith, he is not by nature unpleasant, but I think this remark just came across as rather patronising.
"If we were talking about a male home secretary who had lost a bit of weight I am sure no Member of Parliament would comment."
Ms Nokes, who chairs the all-party group on body image, said she had "borne the brunt" of jibes about her own weight.
"I am very conscious that I have an interesting relationship with food," she said. "My weight goes up and down and people will freely comment that either I am looking a bit chubby or 'haven't you done well, you have lost a bit of weight'...
"I think it is a particularly harsh reality that is dished out all too frequently to women MPs."
Ms Nokes went on: "I think it was sexist because the insinuation of the remark that Keith very unfortunately put on Twitter was about a woman who, he has suggested through his comments, is losing weight through the pressure of work. I think it is very sad that he chose to do so."