Boris Johnson has said MPs should be selected ‘on their merits’ as he refused to back all-female shortlists.
Speaking on Times Radio, the Prime Minister said selection processes would be left to local associations, adding that the Tories should be “incredibly proud” to promote women in politics.
It comes after Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish resigned when he was named as the individual who viewed pornography in the Commons chamber.
A by-election will be held in the Devonshire constituency to replace Mr Parish, who admits to watching pornography twice in Parliament, saying he first saw it accidentally after watching tractors online before d act deliberately.
Some Tories – including Caroline Nokes, chair of the House of Commons Women’s and Equalities Committee – want the party to ensure its candidate is a woman.
However, when asked if he supported all-female shortlists, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m very much in favor of people establishing their position, earning their position, on their merits.
Video: ‘Very modest’ Tory party under Johnson’s leadership, says former women’s minister (The Independent)
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“Women are doing absolutely brilliantly in the Conservative Party at the moment and we want to encourage that.”
In a nod to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the Prime Minister noted that two of the four “highest positions in government are currently held by women”.
While admitting more needed to be done, Mr Johnson stressed that politics looked “very, very different” from when he became an MP in 2001.
“We’ve made leaps and bounds,” he said. “Is there still progress to be made? Yes, there are, and we do.
“As for the selection procedures, they are up to the local association.”
This weekend, party chairman Oliver Dowden said he wanted the Tories to ensure more women MPs were elected so that the party in Parliament “reflects the country at large”.
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