Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron Faces Backlash after Axing Women from Cabinet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron Faces Backlash after Axing Women from Cabinet

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

DAVID CAMERON'S government was accused of "male chauvinism" today over a cut in the number of women Cabinet ministers.

The Prime Minister was warned he is taking a "big gamble" with women's votes and new Tory chairman Grant Shapps was forced to fend off growing criticism after the number of women in top posts fell from five to four. A senior Liberal Democrats said it was "regrettable" not to have more women in the Cabinet, which is also all-white.

Meanwhile the Government is pushing a campaign in the EU to block European Commission plans for a 40 per cent quota for women on large company boards. Instead, Britain is backing a voluntary scheme to make firms take on more female directors.

In yesterday's reshuffle Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman Cabinet minister, was axed from her post as party chairwoman. Caroline Spelman lost her job as Environment Secretary and Cheryl Gillan was removed as Welsh W Secretary. Maria Miller was promoted to Culture Secretary and Theresa Villiers to Northern Ireland Secretary. Justine Greening moved from Transport to International Development and Theresa May stays as Home Secretary.

Baroness Warsi will still be able to attend Cabinet when appropriate in her role as Foreign Office minister and minister for faith and community but is not a full member.

A Labour source said: "There is a streak of male chauvinism which runs deeply through David Cameron's government."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper added: "Women's voices at the Cabinet table have been weakened even further by David Cameron's reshuffle, and women across the country will lose out as a result."

Senior Labour MP Tessa Jowell said: "The decisions taken by the maledominated Cabinet are having a profound and damaging impact on the lives of women. David Cameron's government has a complete blindspot." Polls have shown the Tories have had more of a struggle to win over women than men as the economic crisis has deepened. …

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