Jess Phillips MP: 'Women in politics have to be tougher than men'

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British Labour leadership candidate, Jess Phillips sets out her vision for the party during the Leader hustings event in Liverpool, north west England on January 18, 2020. - Five MPs formally have entered the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Britain's main opposition Labour party, and rebuild their movement after last month's disastrous election. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Jess Phillips in 2020 during the Labour leadership contest (AFP via Getty Images)

Labour MP Jess Phillips says women in politics have to be tougher than men, and it is often left to them to put their heads above the parapet such as in the 'porngate' scandal.

The Birmingham Yardley MP, who was elected in 2015, also said it can be tiring to always have to have an opinion on things and sometimes she doesn't 'have the energy' to be really cross about things.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, the 40-year-old said it was riskier for women being in politics, because they didn't think they were 'constantly on a promise' like men did.

Read more: MP Jess Phillips: 'I've got to make violence against women a mainstream issue'

She said: "To be a woman in politics, you have to be tougher than a man because you face so much more challenge and abuse."

WATCH: Jess Phillips on being a girl crush

Thornton asked her if is was tiring 'having to be the one that constantly is bombastic, challenging, questioning, unpopular'. Phillips is known for speaking her mind and is the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding.

Phillips said a problem for women in politics more generally was that when there were internal fractions in Westminster and within parties, it was often the women who had to put their heads above the parapet.

Read more: 'It's embarrassing': MP speaks out over porn allegation

She said she had seen the same during the years when Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour Party, and during the recent 'porngate' scandal when Conservative MP Neil Parish stepped down after admitting watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

"Everything's a gate isn't?" she asked, before saying the women in the Tory party had gone out and 'batted collectively with each other' in this case.

Listen to the full episode to hear Jess tell Kate about her life in politics so far, her marriage with her very plain-speaking husband, and more about her love of quiz shows

She said she often got calls from journalists asking for her opinion, being one of a handful 'bolshy' people in Parliament.

"Sometimes I have no strong feelings about things," she said. "I'm like: 'I don't care. I haven't got the energy to be really cross about this today.'

"When people stop being raped, I tell you what, I'll get round to people who've said something stupid on a Netflix series. Until that point, really, I haven't got the energy."

Jess Phillips MP holds the Sue Gray report up as she responds to a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report. Picture date: Monday January 31, 2022. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jess Phillips MP holds the Sue Gray report up as she responds to a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs in the House of Commons in January 2022. (House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)

She described herself as 'bolshy' again when remembering her late mum, who died 12 years ago and who Phillips said she spoke to every single day of her life until she died.

She described her 'magnificent political activist' mum as being in her life constantly when she was alive, and also said she gave Andy Burnham his first job and was remembered fondly in politics.

Phillips added: "But nothing like me, like she wasn't bolshy. She was quiet.

"And she made people do what she wanted and needed with sort of quiet kindness. Whereas I'm just like: 'If you don't do it, I'm going to shout at you.'"

While Phillips said she had been warned about being pigeonholed in politics, and that 'people get tired of you saying the same thing over and over again', she also admitted that the art of politics really was in repeating yourself.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talks with Jess Phillips MP during a reception at Clarence House in London to mark 50 years of Refuge on January 25, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Jess Phillips MP with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a reception at Clarence House in London to mark 50 years of Refuge. (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

"It's a bit like being a parent," she said. "Your children do eventually learn to put their shoes away when they're like 30.

"But only because you've said it every single day for the preceding 30 years. That is essentially what [politics] is."

WATCH: Jess Phillips on married life, her love of quiz shows and being phoned by the Prime Minister whilst getting her nails done

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