Boris Johnson has hit back at claims he has a ‘women problem’ insisting his style of Government is a ‘feminocracy’ – and that two powerful Tory females are writing his Election manifesto.
Polling shows the Prime Minister’s popularity has slumped among female voters since he took office in July after a series of rows about sexism and lurid allegations concerning his private life.
Mr Johnson has been slammed for using terms such as ‘big girl’s blouse’ and ‘girly swot’ and saw his first party conference as leader dogged by a slew of negative headlines relating to women.
The Conservative manifesto will be drawn up by Munira Mirza (pictured right) and Rachel Wolf (pictured left)
But fighting back, The Mail on Sunday can reveal Mr Johnson promised a meeting of Tory women on the fringe of his party’s Manchester gathering that his plans for the next Parliament would contain a ‘wonderful agenda’ for them including a radical manifesto penned by his two most senior female policy gurus.
Addressing the Women2Win group set up by Theresa May in the early 2000s to boost the number of female Tory MPs, Mr Johnson said the Tories must ‘mobilise and support’ the female vote to stay in power. He said: ‘If you want any evidence, any further evidence of our commitment to having a wonderful agenda not just for women but for the entire country, I can tell you that we already have the Conservative manifesto for the next Election being drawn up by two particularly brilliant women, Munira Mirza and Rachel Wolf.
Mr Johnson (pictured during second day of the annual Conservative Party conference) said the Tories must ‘mobilise and support’ the female vote to stay in power. His party’s manifesto will be written by women with the objective of uniting the country
‘So our manifesto is going to be written by women and our objective is to unite our country and finally to make sure that we protect the greatest country on earth, the best place to live, the best place to bring up a family, the best place to send your kids to school, that we protect it from the deprivations of a socialist government which would be an absolute disaster for the UK.’
And in a dig at his predecessor, whose 2017 Election imploded after an extremely hostile reaction by voters to her long and gloomy manifesto, Mr Johnson insisted their work is a ‘short, concise outline with no hostages to fortune’.
Munira Mirza, 41, heads up the Downing Street Policy Unit and has been a close ally of Mr Johnson since his spell as Mayor of London, serving as his main policy adviser.
The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Ms Mirza grew up in Oldham, went to a comprehensive school and then Oxford University. She was a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the 1990s, but later worked for right-of-centre think-tank Policy Exchange and City Hall.
Rachel Wolf first worked for Mr Johnson in 2006 when he was Shadow Education Minister, before she went to work for Education Secretary Michael Gove alongside current Downing Street chief aide Dominic Cummings.
The high-flying Cambridge graduate, 33, is the daughter of economics pundit Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, and a key figure in Mr Johnson’s inner circle. She once revealed her job interview with him consisted of writing two essays on a choice of three topics: ‘my trip in a spaceship, on a country ramble, or a trip to the Taj Mahal’.
Mirza is pictured with Mr Johnson and Ekow Eshun looking at the Fourth Plynth Shortlisted Entry by Jeremy Deller, on May 18, 2008
The pair have an uphill struggle to win over female voters to Mr Johnson’s cause. Women are more likely than men to find the PM ‘dislikeable’ and ‘out of touch’.
According to a YouGov poll last month, 47 per cent of female voters found him ‘dislikeable’ – up seven points since the end of August – and five points higher than among men.
And 51 per cent of women believed that he was ‘incompetent’, rocketing nine points in just one month.
The note (pictured above) highlights Mr Johnson’s opinion of former Conservative leader David Cameron
But defending his record, Mr Johnson told the gathering of Conservative women last Sunday evening that he has used every job he has held in public life to advance their cause, saying, ‘When I was running City Hall, it was virtually a feminocracy’.
And he added that, during his time as Foreign Secretary, ‘we had one policy that we pursued around the world that I believe would unlock so many of the problems that beset our planet and that is to ensure that in every country on earth, every girl gets 12 years of quality education.’
And pointing to the number of women in his Cabinet, he joked that when the Women2Win group was formed in 2005, ‘the majority view probably was that a woman in politics could expect to get a job as a secretary’.
He delighted his audience by declaring: ‘I can tell you that 14 years later that is still true. Home Secretary, Business Secretary, Trade Secretary, Work and Pensions Secretary, Environment Secretary, Culture Secretary, Housing Minister and Leader of the House of Lords.
‘We have as many women in the Cabinet as any time in our history as far as I know.’
The NHS, education and immigration – including an Australian-style points system – are expected to feature prominently in the manifesto, which will seek to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Last night, a Tory source said: ‘It’s a manifesto written for women that will help women. Unlike previous attempts, this will be the most feminist manifesto ever.’