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Jo Brand shuts down sexual harassment comments on Have I Got News For You

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Kayleigh Dray
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Jo Brand has been lauded on social media after hitting back at an all-male Have I Got News For You panel’s comments on sexual harassment.

During a recent episode of the BBC show, the teams were asked to comment on the sexual harassment allegations that have rocked Westminster over the past few weeks. However, when it came to a headline about an MP taking his personal trainer to the cinema, journalist Ian Hislop appeared unimpressed.

“Some of this is not high-level crime, is it?” he asked the audience. “Not compared to Putin or Trump.”

Jo Brand, who was acting as guest host for the episode, immediately cut in, questioning who should decide what is and is not “high-level” sexual harassment.

“If I can just say – as the only representative of the female gender here today – I know it’s not high-level, but it doesn’t have to be high-level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons,” she said.

“Actually, women, if you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down.”

Brand added: “Sorry, I thought I was on Question Time for a minute.”

The comedian’s articulate and grounded argument was incredibly well-received by viewers watching the show at home, with the likes of Caitlin Moran tweeting their praise for Brand.

And it seems as if the comedian’s words had a positive impact on her fellow HIGNFY stars, too.

Shortly after Brand apologised for her comments, Hislop reassured her that she had nothing to say sorry for. Indeed, quite the opposite.

“As you point out, with four blokes sitting around you we’re hardly in a position to say, ‘That’s rubbish’,” said Hislop.

“Faced with the ongoing revelations about sexual harassment, we must make this a turning point and a moment of real change,” says Corbyn.

Sky News reports that a list of 36 Conservative MPs – including 20 ministers – accused of inappropriate behaviour has been doing the rounds on political blogs.

Responding to the news, Jeremy Corbyn has said Westminster has a “warped and degrading” culture of sexual harassment – and promised that his party is committed not just to challenging this, but also to overturning it.

“Faced with the ongoing revelations about sexual harassment, we must make this a turning point and a moment of real change,” said Corbyn, according to The Standard.

“We must say ‘no more’. We must no longer allow women, or anyone else for that matter, to be abused in the workplace or anywhere else.

“This is not about peering into some dark recesses. This kind of abuse, sexism and misogyny, has been hiding in plain sight. It is all around us.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has also vowed to crack down on the problem: on Sunday 29 October, she wrote to John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, asking him to enforce a grievance procedure for staff who want to report MPs’ behaviour.

“I believe it important that those who work in the House of Commons are treated properly and fairly, as would be expected in any modern workplace,” she said.

Conservative Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear in the Commons to update MPs on how disciplinary procedures will be overhauled in regard to sexual harassment.

Images: BBC One/Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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