BBC presenter apologises for jibe about Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 22:04 14 September 2019 | UPDATED: 22:12 14 September 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech at the Convention of the North. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech at the Convention of the North. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire.

BBC broadcaster Steph McGovern has apologised after making a jibe about Boris Johnson following his speech.

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The BBC Breakfast presenter, who is on maternity leave, was hosting the Convention of the North in Rotherham where the prime minister was speaking, and comments she made after the pair passed each other on the stage have resulted in her saying she did not mean to cause offence.

After she encouraged the crowd to applaud Johnson, she said: "I'd just like to point out I am a girly swot and I'm proud of it. Let's see who's in the job the longest."

It emerged last week that Johnson wrote that David Cameron is a "girly swot" on a private cabinet paper.

It came days after Johnson used similar language in the Commons, calling Jeremy Corbyn a "big girl's blouse" over the Labour leader's decision not to back the PM's bid for an election while the risk of a no-deal Brexit remained.

Writing on Twitter, McGovern sad: "At a non BBC event I was hosting today, I made a light hearted remark after the prime minister's speech. Sorry that this caused offence to some. That was absolutely not my intention."

Johnson also used the "girly swot" phrase against Cameron in a 2013 interview to dismiss the former Conservative Party leader for getting a first class degree at Oxford, a grade higher than the PM.

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Last week, Labour's Yvette Cooper criticised Johnson for his use of language.

"Good grief. The prime minister of Great Britain thinks he's still back at Eton - 'girly swat,' 'big girl's blouse' - what century is he in if the word 'girl' is one of his staple insults?," she tweeted.

Dawn Butler, Labour's shadow women and equalities minister, said: "Whether it's references to a 'big girl's blouse' or a 'girly swot', these comments expose Boris Johnson's problem with women.

"It's no wonder that with such outdated, racist and misogynistic views, he oversees a party that has systematically made the lives of women in the UK harder.

"By 2020, women will have been hit by 87% of social security cuts.

"With a prime minister like Boris Johnson, what hope is there for the advancement of women's rights?"

During the speech a man was removed from the building after he started to openly heckle the prime minister.

The BBC declined to comment on the remarks made by McGovern, but said she is allowed to carry out external engagements when on maternity leave.

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