British Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has been told by Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing that she has made ‘woman look bad’ after a comfort break she took during a Commons debate. The UK’s Daily Mail reported that Tulip, 33, who is seven months pregnant with her first child, had been in the chamber for more than two hours when she decided to take the break. But when she came back 45 minutes later Laing was reported to have called her over and given her a dressing down in front of another “shocked” MP.
The Deputy Speaker, also a woman, allegedly told Tulip not to 'play the pregnancy card', the Daily Mail said.
Deputy Speaker Laing, 57, has now been accused of telling Tulip she had 'made women look bad' and warned her: 'You're bringing down the whole of womankind'.
The Deputy Speaker was angry as the new MP did not stay in the chamber for long enough after she had spoken. The Commons “courtesy” as well as the “rule” requires MPs’ making a speech to stay on until three more have spoken.
A witness was quoted in the report as saying that Tulip apologised.
"She didn't mention being pregnant, but Madame Deputy Speaker was annoyed and said, 'Don't play the pregnancy card with me'.”
The pregnant MP, married to former civil servant Chris Percy, then apologised again and tried to explain herself but Laing, who is divorced with one son, allegedly repeated she should not have left.
The report quoted the Deputy Speaker as saying: “You've made women look bad. People will think that women can't follow the conventions of the House because they're pregnant.”
Another unnamed witness quoted in the report said: “She was really laying into her. It was intense.”
Tulip told the media that the incident did happen, after the fellow MP spoke out, saying: “I think it shows the conventions of the House are outdated for anyone, let alone for pregnant women or people with health issues.”
"In certain cases people should be given leeway to leave without having to go through an administrative process. Elsewhere in society that would just be common sense.”
The report said Tulip was considering making a complaint about the incident, which was brought to light by the furious politician who overheard the heated conversation.
Laing is said to have been furious that the MP gave her speech but had not sat to hear several more afterwards.
The new MP for Hampstead and Kilburn arrived at 12:30pm (UK local time) on Wednesday for a debate on Universal Credit.
Footage from the Commons shows Tulip spoke at 2:30pm before leaving at 2:45pm.
After she walked out Laing told the remaining MPs: “If one makes a speech in the Chamber, it is courteous and required by the rules of the House that one stays in the Chamber certainly for the following speech and usually for at least two speeches thereafter.
"The people who have not done so today know who they are.”
Around 45 minutes later the MP returned and she was called to the Speaker's Chair for a telling-off.
Laing, who has been a Tory MP in Essex since 1997, had her son Matthew a week after the 2001 election but was back speaking in the Commons just 10 days after giving birth.
Her 19-year marriage to husband Alan Laing ended 10 months later, according to bdnews24.com.