Furious voters tell Stafford MP to 'get back to work' after giving birth
A Staffordshire MP says she has received dozens of phone calls from furious constituents criticising her for taking time off after giving birth.
Theo Clarke is on six months maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter Arabella in August.
But the Stafford MP says her office has been bombarded with calls from residents telling her to get back to work.
One comment said 'you can’t be an MP and want to go off and have children', while another said Stafford needed a 'hard-working MP who doesn’t just take six months off when she fancies it'.
Mrs Clarke said: "I’m dismayed but not surprised at how some people have reacted to the news that I recently gave birth and have taken some time off to care for my daughter as I’m legally entitled to do.
"I’ve decided to call out this abuse as I don’t believe that women should have to choose between being a politician and a mother. This is the 21st century and we can do both. And if we want to have a more inclusive and representative democracy then we need more women to stand for public office.
"This toxic atmosphere towards female politicians is only hindering equality and good government.
"I find it shocking that, according to these people, women should not have children and be an MP when the very fact they are mothers is so valuable.
"Their experience is vital if we are to have good governance and as broad a range of people in Parliament as possible. Being a mum has helped inform my views on important issues such as maternity services, the cost of childcare and the importance of education which I will continue to campaign for.
"I also passionately believe we need more women in public life. I work to increase the number of women MPs through the cross party 50:50 campaign to increase female representation but the climate will have to radically change if we are to have any chance of success."
The 37-year old, who has represented Stafford since 2019 and is a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) at the Department for International Trade, underwent major surgery after giving birth and remained in hospital for nearly a week.
She said her maternity leave had been "in name only" at times and that while looking after her baby she had been in "daily communication" with her office on urgent matters, and also attended constituency events and Parliament.
She added: “I will not be deterred by this abuse and instead I will redouble my efforts on my return to Parliament to help women in society deal with this sort of discrimination and use my experience to help others.
"It is also not acceptable for my brilliant team to have to deal with this abuse every day."