Jo Brand has received widespread praise after taking last night’s Have I Got News For You guests to task over why sexual harassment should be taken seriously.
The comedian offered a ringing rebuke following a series of jokes by the all-male panel over recent misconduct allegations within Parliament, with viewers accusing panelists of trying to “downplay” harassment.
While Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts called journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer a “big strong girl” following accusations that former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon repeatedly touched her knee at a dinner a number of years ago, Ian Hislop laughed over one allegation of a Tory MP taking his personal trainer to the cinema.
“Some of this isn’t high-level crime, is it?” Hislop said. “Compared to say, Putin or Trump.”
Earning herself whoops and hollers of support from the studio audience, Brand cut in: “If I could only say that as the only representative of the female gender here today, I know it’s not high level but it doesn’t have to be high level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons.”
She continued: “And actually for women, if you’re constantly being harassed even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down.
“Sorry, I thought I was on Question Time for a minute,” Brand joked.
In recent weeks, there have been numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment within the House of Commons.
While Tory MP Fallon stepped down from his Defence role earlier in the week, admitting his previous conduct had “fallen short” of military standards, fellow Conservative Charlie Elphicke last night had the Tory whip suspended following ’serious allegations” that have been referred to the police.
The Dover MP has denied any wrongdoing.
Brand’s response triggered a wave of support on social media, with one woman writing: “Couldn’t have chosen a better host than Jo Brand tonight.
“Nobody could stand up to that lot as well as she did. Well done that woman.”
Another added: “Well done, Jo Brand. She shouldn’t have had to explain it to the #HIGNFY panel, but she did it well.”
Happened to graze onto #HIGNFY last night (it’s lost its sparkle) as she took them to task. Was whooping & hollering. Well said, @iamjobrand
#HIGNFY I haven’t watched the whole programme yet but from this clip, I can only say “thank God for Jo Brand”.
Meanwhile, other viewers hit out at the show for failing to have a single female guest on the panel, bar host Brand.
And as the only woman on the panel… yeah, it’s no wonder, quite frankly, things are as they are. MORE women is all that stops this.
Thank fuck for Jo Brand on #hignfy. Or it would’ve been a bunch of blokes minimising, normalizing and laughing at sexual harassment ?