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Tory claims mistakes made during lockdown due to lack of women in cabinet

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leads colleagues including Cabinet Secretary Simon Case (left), across Downing Street as they arrive for the government's weekly Cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). - Credit: PA

“Glaring ommissions” made during lockdown were due to a lack of women in cabinet, a former Tory minister has claimed.

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, has previously accused Boris Johnson’s administration of having a “very blokey mentality”.

The backbencher has said she wants a “gender-balanced cabinet” leading the government to ensure women’s issues get more of a look in.

Speaking to Parliamentary Radio before International Women’s Day, Nokes said: “The glaring omission when we went into the first lockdown this time last year was about women and childcare.

“Formal childcare settings were shut and informal childcare, granny and grandpa looking after children, was banned. For many women, it was not possible to work from home.

“We need government ministers in the cabinet to look at things through a lens that includes women. We are 51% of the electorate – we cannot be forgotten.

“We don’t have enough women in the cabinet who are shouting out and standing up for women.”

The ex-immigration minister has become an outspoken advocate for the women-dominated beauty sector in recent months.

She criticised the decision last year to delay nail bars being allowed to reopen following the easing of the first lockdown.

In an article for the Conservative Home website, Nokes pointed to businesses such as nail bars and pilates studios being unable to reopen on so-called “super Saturday” in July.

And even when beauty salons were given the green light to reopen, they were still banned from carrying out eyelash treatments and facials while men were permitted to have their beards trimmed.

She told Parliament Radio: “Beauty is not trivial – it is about wellbeing.

“My hairdresser and manicurist act as my therapist when I sit in their chair, they perform a crucial role in society.

“It employees over 300,000 people, mostly women. I am passionate about the sector and have made friends and allies in it over the past 12 months.”

Nokes, in comments made in an interview with former home secretary Amber Rudd for The House magazine, said a Labour MP previously “laid his hands on me in a really inappropriate way”, and she compared parliament to a “prep school”.

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