Rachel Reeves cannot 'assure' any woman they would not face harassment in Parliament, as Labour and Conservatives encourage women to stand in Wakefield

Both Labour and the Conservatives say they would encourage a woman to stand for them in the upcoming Wakefield by-election, despite the Shadow Chancellor admitting that she “can’t give the assurance” a female MP would not be subject to sexual harassment.

Rachel Reeves told The Yorkshire Post that it is a “sad truth” that all women in Parliament “have their own story of sexism”, while Boris Johnson admitted there “can be improvements” made to Westminster’s culture.

Parliamentarians have faced renewed accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct this week, after it was revealed that Devon MP Neil Parish is the one accused of watching porn in the House of Commons chamber.

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Elsewhere, one female Cabinet Minister said she was once “pinned up against a wall” by a colleague.

Rachel Reeves campaigning in Wakefield yesterday

Asked if a woman should feel “safe” to stand for his party in Wakefield, Mr Johnson said “of course” and that things have changed for the “better” since he first entered Parliament 20 years ago.

“That’s not to say there can’t be improvements,” he added.

“I think there can be improvements.

“But things are a lot better than they were 20 years ago.”

Ms Reeves said she wants “more women in Parliament” to challenge inappropriate behaviour, but could not guarantee any potential female candidates that they would not be subjected to harassment.

“Can I say that you won’t be victim to it?

“I can’t give that assurance and I say that with great sadness,” she said, speaking to the Yorkshire Post from Wakefield yesterday.

“I’ve done jobs outside of politics.

“I worked in banking and finance for over a decade before I became an MP.

“If this sort of thing had been happening in my previous workplaces people would be out the door.

“You can’t watch pornography if you’re working in a bank, you can’t watch pornography if you’re working in a hospital or a school, and you shouldn’t be allowed to watch pornography if you’re an MP.

“The political parties need to do much more to stamp out bad behaviour and kick out MPs who behave like this.”

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Parish was suspended by the Conservatives while under investigation for allegedly watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

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Conservative Neil Parish revealed as MP accused of watching porn in House of Com...

The Tiverton and Honiton MP had the Tory whip withdrawn pending the result of the investigation after a conversation with Tory Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris.

An investigation by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) was launched after the allegations surfaced during a meeting of Tory MPs on Tuesday.

Mr Parish, the chairman of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, has represented the Devon constituency since 2010.

A spokeswoman for Mr Heaton-Harris said: “Having spoken to the Chief Whip this afternoon, Neil Parish MP is reporting himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

“Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative whip pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Earlier in the day, Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she had been at the “sharp end” of misogyny “many times over” from some colleagues.

She told LBC Radio yesterday morning: “We might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as, you know, a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House,

“I’m pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man.

“These sorts of things, these power abuses, that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable”.