Former home secretary Amber Rudd has asked Boris Johnson “where are all the women?” as the government responds to the coronavirus crisis.
Rudd said “equality means better decisions” and urged the prime minister not to “pack the women away”.
It comes after Number 10 set up a special coronavirus response division made up of cabinet ministers Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove.
Home secretary Priti Patel was not included in the unit.
Rudd, who briefly served in Johnson’s cabinet last year as women and equalities minister and work and pensions secretary, posted on Twitter on Wednesday:
During Gov briefings am I the only one thinking ‘where are all the women?’ Why are there no senior women in the “war cabinet” or used to convey those critical messages? Equality means better decisions. Don’t pack the women away during a crisis.
— Amber Rudd (@AmberRuddUK) March 18, 2020
On Tuesday, Downing Street set up four new government structures focusing on its coronavirus response: health, chaired by health secretary Hancock; economy and business, chaired by Sunak; international, chaired by foreign secretary Raab; and general public sector, chaired by Gove.
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The quartet will now attend Johnson’s daily coronavirus Cobra meetings in Downing Street.
Rudd quit Johnson’s cabinet over his hardline Brexit stance in September after just two months.
She also left the Conservative Party and stood down as MP for Hastings and Rye before the general election.
Earlier this month, Rudd urged Oxford University students to “stop hiding and start engaging” after she was “no-platformed” 30 minutes before she was due to speak at an event about women in politics.
Rudd was due to speak at the UN Women Oxford event for International Women’s Day, but was blocked after the student society voted to cancel it.
It followed pressure from some students who claimed Rudd’s immigration policies had marginalised minority groups, citing the government’s treatment of the Windrush generation as an example.