Boris Johnson has been criticised over a speech in which he heaped praise on police and talked about female lorry drivers urinating in bushes.
The prime minister described how much he “loved” the police while speaking to women at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester earlier this month.
The comments were made two days after Johnson had been on TV urging the public to trust the police in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder by serving officer Wayne Couzens.
However, some female Tories were less than impressed, with one telling HuffPost UK: “It was tone deaf really. Instead of lavishing praise on the police, perhaps he should have been talking about what they can do to rebuild trust with women.”
The speech - made just a few days after Couzens’ sentencing - was described as “terrible” and “out of touch” by one Tory woman.
Johnson made the comments at a fringe event by Women2Win - a campaign to get more Conservative women elected.
He said: “Look at our policing I think the men and women in our police force are fantastic. I love them. I love the police and there’s several of them here protecting me, so I better be careful what I say. They are wonderful guys.”
In an apparent reference to Everard’s killing, he went on to say we all wanted to have a world in which women “can walk the streets safely” and their complaints are taken seriously.
Also in the speech, the PM pushed for more female representation in every profession, adding: “Look at the issue that’s obsessing the media at the moment - slightly too much obsessing the media.
“Why is it do you think my friends, it’s so difficult to persuade people to become lorry drivers and join the road haulage industry well why should they join when you when you’re told you have to urinate in the bushes?
“I’m speaking frankly about this, why should you when you have to sleep in your cabin, that’s not frankly what women want. It’s ridiculous.”
Labour MP Janet Daby has been calling for misogyny in police forces to be addressed and raising examples in the commons.
She told HuffPost UK: “He is not helping the police by brushing off the issue and by keeping in with ‘the boys’.
“Critiquing the police is not about making them ineffectual or reducing their authority in society. It is about improving their standards and challenging them to be better and to provide a dignified and well-respected national service.”
She said sexism was “deep-rooted” in the police force and no different to the challenges other male dominated organisations have faced.
Daby said she was not convinced Johnson has the “will or inclination” to stand up for women.
A No10 spokesperson said: “This was a truly sickening crime – and as the PM said at the time, we know that officers will have shared in the shock and devastation felt by the whole country.
“We’ve been clear that the police must raise the bar and investigate crimes against women and girls thoroughly so that victims feel more confident coming forward to report them and more perpetrators are brought to justice.
“Our Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy – launched this summer – will also help drive long-term change to prevent more of these crimes from happening in the first place and ensure victims get the support they need.”