Kemi Badenoch has accused a Labour MP of being a “liar” during a fiery clash that erupted over language used to describe transgender children.
MsBadenoch, equalities minister, was warned about the use of “unparliamentary language” after she blasted Kate Osborne MP for allegedly lying.
During an appearance at the Women and Equalities Select Committee on Wednesday, the Cabinet minister took aim at Ms Osborne who accused her of previously using “inflammatory language that likens children and young people coming out as trans to the spread of a disease”.
Ms Badenoch, who is also the Business and Trade Secretary, said: “I have never said that, that is a lie.
“That is a lie and I think you should withdraw that statement. That is a lie. You are lying.”
Ms Osborne said she was “not lying to you” but Ms Badenoch shot back: “You are lying. I have never used the word ‘disease’ and this is exactly what I am talking about — you are making statements at a select committee that are untrue.”
Conservative committee chairwoman Caroline Nokes interrupted to say: “Can I just remind the minister that that is unparliamentary language to use?”
Ms Badenoch replied: “What she said is not true. We have to use facts in this room, we can’t just make stuff up.”
The minister also said action was needed to protect single-sex spaces because there are “more people who are predators than there are people who are trans”.
The equalities minister said: “For many years, many transgender people were living their lives peacefully, nobody had an issue.
“It wasn’t until predators started exploiting the loopholes that we are having to tighten this.
“It is the behaviour of people who are choosing to exploit rights given to transgender people because the definition is very loose that we are now having to look at what we can do in order to protect women and children who are the most vulnerable in those single-sex spaces.
“It is not easy, the ideal situation would have been if the predators had not chosen to exploit this loophole.
“I have to be clear that I’m not saying that transgender people are predators, but there are more people who are predators than there are people who are trans.
“We need to think very carefully about how we draft legislation in order to protect all the people, whether it is transgender people, women and children, those who need single-sex spaces. It is not an easy thing to do but that is what I’m working on.”
The Daily Express has backed calls for single-sex spaces as part of its Protect Women’s Rights crusade.