UK Politics

Pregnant Rachel Reeves MP hits back at job doubts

Rachel Reeves

Labour frontbencher Rachel Reeves has rejected suggestions that she would not be able to give a top government job her "full attention", while pregnant.

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell raised a query about the shadow work and pensions secretary, saying people must be "put in positions they can handle".

Ms Reeves said via Twitter that his words implied a "Tory women problem".

Downing Street has dismissed suggestions that pregnant MPs should not be given cabinet jobs.

Ms Reeves has said she plans to take maternity leave within weeks of the general election on 7 May, and is due to have her second child on 15 June.

'Job demands'

She told the Daily Mail: "I'm having a child and I shall be on maternity leave for the early weeks and months of the next government.

"The first thing I would do is abolish the bedroom tax. That's something I can do really quickly. My baby's due in June and I want to cancel the bedroom tax before I go on maternity leave."

The government rejects the term "bedroom tax" used by Labour and other critics for the policy under which social tenants who are deemed to have more bedrooms than they need are subject to a cut in housing benefit.

When asked about the prime minister's views on whether women should serve in the cabinet while pregnant, Mr Cameron's official spokesman said: "Why on earth not?"

But Mr Rosindell, the MP for Romford, told the paper: "I don't want to say someone who is having a baby is not eligible to be a cabinet minister, but I certainly think perhaps the demands of that particular job will require someone to give it their full attention.

"I don't expect Rachel Reeves to be in the cabinet after the election because I expect the Conservatives to win, but clearly people need to be put in the positions they can handle."

Ms Reeves later responded via Twitter to Mr Rosindell's comments, saying: "300,000 women a yr take maternity leave but @AndrewRosindell thinks can't do big job & be a mum. Tory women problem?"

Mr Cameron's official spokesman also said the prime minister regarded maternity leave entitlements as "universal", adding: "It is entirely a matter for individual families to take the decisions that they think are right for them, and the government's job is to support them in those decisions they take."

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