Visible Women

Jess Phillips on why she prefers Jacob Rees-Mogg to Boris Johnson

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Moya Crockett
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Appearing on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House, Labour MP Jess Phillips says she’d “fear for Boris Johnson’s safety” if they were forced to go on holiday together. 

Boris Johnson is a divisive figure. His fans think he’s hilarious, erudite, an eloquent joker who brings some welcome charisma to the anti-PC brigade. But many others see him as a dangerous double-crosser who believes in nothing so much as the accumulation of personal power – and who isn’t actually very good at his job.

During an appearance on Stylist’s brand new political TV show, Women of the House, three of the UK’s leading female MPs were asked a question designed to reveal what they really think of Johnson, as well as one of his fellow high-profile Brexiteers.

Specifically, we asked Labour’s Jess Phillips, Conservative Kemi Badenoch and the SNP’s Hannah Bardell to tell us: who would they rather go on a canal holiday in Norfolk with, Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg?

“I would pick Jacob any day of the week, because I would fear for Boris Johnson’s safety if he was left on a canal boat with me,” said Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley.

“I mean I literally cannot stand him. He is a charlatan.”

Jess Phillips on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House 

Phillips said that she doesn’t agree with Rees-Mogg on most issues, adding that she and the Conservative MP for North East Somerset once actually tried to find “a policy that we both liked”.

It wasn’t an easy task. Ultimately, they realised that only area of political common ground they shared was that they both wanted Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom.

Despite this, however, Phillips said that she respected Rees-Mogg for holding his ultra-Tory beliefs sincerely – something that she doesn’t think can be said for Johnson.

“[Rees-Mogg] is who he is,” she said. “People might not like that, but… I find that much more appealing than spending a week with someone who’s a fake.”

Johnson has been criticised in the past for flip-flopping on important issues from Brexit to Syria to Turkey’s accession to the EU – a habit that some of his detractors say is down to his desire to simply be on the winning side. 

Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch, SNP MP Hannah Bardell and Labour MP Jess Phillips on Women of the House

Launched as part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign, new TV show Women of the House is a media first: a “safe space” designed to allow women in politics to talk about the topics that matter most to them.

After years of watching female MPs being spoken over and shouted down on male-dominated political panel shows, we wanted to create a place for women to speak about big political issues – from Brexit to gender equality – in a relaxed, good-humoured, collaborative environment.

Hosted by Sky News presenter Isabel Webster, the pilot episode of Women of the House dropped ahead of the centenary of women being able to stand for parliament. 

“This November marks 100 years since women could stand for parliament, and although we have a woman in the top seat as Prime Minister, we still aren’t represented properly across parties or in the House,” says Lisa Smosarski, Stylist’s editor-in-chief.

“Our mission is to encourage more women to engage with politics, consider a political career and to champion the women already making waves in Westminster –and what better way to do that than to create a space where female MPS can talk candidly about their lives in politics, share their opinions on key parliamentary topics and show us what it means to be a female MP in 2018… then broadcast that conversation to the world.”

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

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Would you rather go on a canal holiday in Norfolk with Jacob Rees-Mogg or Boris Johnson?

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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