Women in the Commons

Published: 8th Mar 2017

In brief


Both female Prime Ministers have been Conservatives.


Correct. The UK has had two female Prime Ministers, both Conservative MPs.


Half of the shadow cabinet members are women.


Correct. 16 out of 32 members of the Labour shadow cabinet are women.


The Labour party has more women MPs than all the other parties in the House of Commons combined.


Correct. 101 out of the 196 women MPs are Labour party members.

Claim 1 of 3

“...the Labour party has more women MPs than all other parties combined in this house, and a shadow cabinet of which half the members are women.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 8 March 2017

Labour has 101 women MPs, which is more than every other party combined. The Conservatives have 70, the SNP 18, and there are seven more among smaller parties and independents. That adds up to 196 women sitting in the Commons, 30% of all MPs. A record number of women were elected in 2015.

Labour also has a higher proportion of women MPs than the other large parties. 44% of Labour MPs are women, 21% of Conservative MPs, and 33% of SNP MPs.

Half of the shadow cabinet members are women. There are 32 members and 16 women. In the government 35% of cabinet members are women, eight of 23 posts. Not all members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet are MPs—a few are members of the House of Lords.

If we look at the ‘Great Offices of State’ (the Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary) the gender split is 50:50 for both cabinet and shadow cabinet.

“When it comes to female Prime Ministers it’s 2-0 to the Conservatives.”

Victoria Atkins MP, 8 March 2017

Besides Theresa May the UK has had only one other female Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 and was also a Conservative MP.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.


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