Visible Women

Hannah Bardell on the time she bumped into Theresa May in the Commons toilets

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Moya Crockett
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The SNP MP opened up about the strangest experience she’s ever had in the Commons loos on Stylist’s new political TV show, Women of the House

Hands up if you’ve ever bumped into a colleague you don’t know well in the office toilets. Pretty uncomfortable, isn’t it? Now imagine that your work loos are the ladies’ in the House of Commons — and your distant coworker is Theresa May. Are you dying from awkwardness yet?

Spare a thought, then, for Hannah Bardell, who experienced just that a couple of years ago. Speaking on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House, the SNP MP described her encounter with the now-Prime Minister in the Commons loos.

“The only time I’ve ever had a face-to-face conversation with Theresa May was in the toilet,” Bardell said. “And it was a very awkward.”

May was Home Secretary at the time of their restroom rendezvous, Bardell explained, and the MP for Livingston had been impressed with how she’d supported the families of the Hillsborough disaster. 

Hannah Bardell on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House 

May worked with relatives of the victims of the 1989 stadium disaster following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in 2012. She also publicly praised their “extraordinary dignity and determination” in 2016 after an inquest ruled that the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough were unlawfully killed.

Bardell said that she wanted May to know that she admired how she’d responded to the inquest.

“I actually congratulated her on the stance she’d taken [on Hillsborough], and the fact that she had stood outside the circle of the cabinet and done what she thought was right,” the SNP MP said.

“And bless her, she was just dead awkward and was like, ‘Oh God!’”

Bardell added: “I don’t think she expected an SNP MP to say something nice to her.”

Hannah Bardell on Theresa May: “I don’t think she expected an SNP MP to say something nice to her”

Bardell was one of three leading female politicians to appear in the first episode of Women of the House, alongside Kemi Badenoch (Conservative, Saffron Walden) and Jess Phillips (Labour, Birmingham Yardley).

Hosted by Sky News presenter Isabel Webster, the political TV series is a media first. It’s a space for female MPs from different parties to come together and talk openly about what it’s like to be a woman in politics today, and the issues that matter most to them – without any of the tiresome point-scoring found in standard political panel shows.

Political advisor Katie Perrior, who served as one of the show’s co-creators, said she was partially inspired by the late Labour MP Jo Cox’s famous words: “We have more in common than that which divides us.”

“After working for over 20 years in the male dominated world of Westminster politics, including No.10 Downing St, I felt that not only did we not hear enough from our female representatives, but they were often drowned out by others,” Perrior said.

“Our female MPs are not there to make up the numbers; instead they show they have strong views on a range of issues from Brexit to taxes and foreign policy to social justice.

“I’m thrilled to create something that is not only thought provoking but also entertaining and warm.

“It’s time for more women to step up and be heard.”

Find out more about Women of the House and watch the full first episode here.

Stylist’s Visible Women campaign aims to raise the profiles of women in politics – and inspire future generations to follow their lead. See more Visible Women stories here

Images: UK Parliament / Getty Images