Women at the despatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions

13th Jul 2017


The Conservatives have had only three female MPs represent their party at Prime Minister’s Questions since 1997.


Correct. The same is true for Labour.

[Damian Green MP] is the 16th Member to represent his party in Prime Minister’s questions since 1997. Only three of those have been women and the last one before the current Prime Minister was 16 years ago. I believe we have had three women Labour MPs doing this job in the past two years alone.”

Emily Thornberry MP, 12 July 2017

Both the Conservatives and Labour have had three women in total representing their respective parties at Prime Minister’s Questions since 1997 (either as leaders, or as representatives of the leader).

It’s not uncommon for the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to be absent during Prime Minister’s Questions. When this happens, another senior cabinet member will take the PM's place at the despatch box. Similarly, the leader of the Opposition will be represented by senior shadow cabinet members.

From what we could find, it’s correct that there have been three female MPs representing Labour at PMQs in the last two years. Harriet Harman frequently deputised for Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, and last took the despatch box in September 2015 as acting leader of the Labour party. Angela Eagle and Emily Thornberry have stepped in for Jeremy Corbyn more recently.

The last three women to represent the Conservatives at PMQs were Gillian Shephard in April 1998, Angela Browning in July 2001, and most recently Theresa May as PM.

These figures don’t tell us how many times each has appeared on the despatch box.

This fact check is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions, factchecked. Read the roundup.