Daily Mail's 'sexist' Legs-it headline sparks anger... but PM says she doesn't mind

The Prime Minister has dismissed the sexism row over the Daily Mail's "Legs-it" headline, saying it's "just a bit of fun".

The paper sparked an angry backlash after reducing talks between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon to a battle of the legs with a picture of two women and the headline "Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!".

The newspaper was accused of "stealing its headlines from the 1950s" and lambasted as "moronic" and "sexist" by MPs.

But Mrs May said: "If people want to have a bit of fun about how we dress, then so be it."

Speaking during a trip to Birmingham to give a speech on Brexit ahead of triggering Article 50, she told the Wolverhampton Express and Star: "As a woman in politics throughout my whole career I have found that very often, what I wear - particularly my shoes - has been an issue that has been looked at rather closely by people."

Her comments come after the newspaper fired back at critics, saying: "For goodness sake, get a life!"

Speaking to Sky News, former equalities minister Nicky Morgan said the newspaper was being "deliberately provocative and deliberately demeaning" and that it would put girls off going into politics.

Ms Morgan, who has previously commented on the cost of Mrs May's leather trousers, said: "These two very senior female politicians are being judged by their legs rather than what they said.

"I think this headline is deliberately provocative and it is deliberately demeaning.

"There are very important issues at stake that the Prime Minister and First Minister were discussing yesterday.

"The union between England and Scotland is very important, the United Kingdom is very incredibly important and I think that's what should be focused on in terms of their meeting - not a picture of their legs."

Ms Morgan added that it was "deeply disappointing", a "misjudgement" and that it "does put people off adopting high-profile careers".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "It's 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail."

Labour MP Yvette Cooper wrote: "It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously."

A spokesman for Mrs May said he would not comment on "what papers should or shouldn't put on their front pages".

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted a picture of her own legs - in the bath.

Ms Sturgeon's spokesman said: "Brexit may risk taking Britain back to the early 1970s but there is no need for coverage of events to lead the way."

The picture and headline are for an article inside the paper with the headline "Finest weapons at their command? Those pins!" written by the columnist Sarah Vine.

In it, she discusses the merits of the two women's clothing, the elegance of their fingernails, and finally assesses the legs and the "vast expanse on show".

She says: "There is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal."

After immediate anger on social media, the newspaper added beneath the headline on the front page: "Sarah Vine's light-hearted verdict on the big show down".

But it did little to quell the social media ire.

In a statement on its coverage, the Daily Mail released a statement from a spokesman on Tuesday afternoon saying: "For the record, the Mail was the paper which, more than any other, backed Theresa May for the top job.

"Again for the record, we often comment on the appearance of male politicians including Cameron's waistline, Osborne's hair, Corbyn's clothes - and even Boris's legs.

"Is there a rule that says political coverage must be dull or has a po-faced BBC and left-wing commentariat, so obsessed by the Daily Mail, lost all sense of humour ... and proportion?"

Ms Vine said people had had a sense of humour failure and added that the paper was just offering a "more approachable version of the story".

She told Radio 4's World At One that people had a Pavlovian response to the Daily Mail.

The Green party's deputy leader Amelia Womack has submitted a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation accusing the paper of discriminating against the two leaders because of their gender.

She said: "This attempt by the Daily Mail to ignore years of progress by women in politics is utterly pathetic.

"The paper is deliberately ignoring the struggle women have faced to break into politics even though we now have a female prime minister, first leader and party leaders.

"As a young woman politician I find it absolutely extraordinary that a national newspaper has sunk to this level."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes