MP Lee Anderson ‘will not be missed’ after leaving equalities committee

The departure from the women and equalities committee of a Tory MP who faced accusations of sexism has been welcomed by some of its members.

The Ashfield MP, Lee Anderson, who boycotted watching England’s men in the European Championship over players taking the knee, was criticised for telling a female district councillor in his constituency to “stay out of big boy politics” in November. Samantha Deakin said she was a victim of “blatant misogyny and sexism”.

Anderson was appointed to the committee in May last year but stood down after six months, and was replaced in mid-December by the former equalities minister Caroline Dinenage.

Anderson faced an internal party complaint for posting a sexist comment on Facebook in 2018, with the party asked to examine a post by Anderson in July 2018. It showed a photo of Anderson looking at the chest of a female canvasser in a vest top. He captioned the photo: “Out with some great knockers tonight in Skegby.”

Anna Soubry, who was then the Conservative MP in the neighbouring constituency of Broxtowe, was made aware of the post and complained to the then party chairman, Brandon Lewis, and other senior officials. “Lee is an odious sexist,” said Soubry at the time.

Anderson said he had left the committee “due to the time commitment required”, adding: “The meetings are always on a Wednesday, which is my busiest day. I felt I could not give the role the time and effort it deserved.”

But other members of the committee said Anderson had not attended the majority of meetings during his time on the committee.

Alex Davies-Jones, who is herself leaving the committee because she has been appointed to the shadow frontbench, said it wasn’t “going to be a big loss to the committee”.

She said that when Anderson took up the position on the committee there was consternation among other members who feared he would be counterproductive to its work, but Davies-Jones said it “was a shame” he had not heard more from a wide range of evidence from people facing discrimination, including those with protected characteristics.

“It would have made really good viewing to see him confronted by data, facts and experts in the field would have given him a greater understanding of the arguments put forward and maybe dispelled some myths.”

Another member of the committee said: “He clearly put himself forward to disrupt the committee, but he failed entirely and has been replaced by a former minister who will be diligent. His departure will not be missed.”

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