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'Incredibly blokey': Women shut out of Boris Johnson's key decision making bodies, analysis finds

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Women have been shut out of Boris Johnson’s new key decision-making bodies, an analysis shows, sparking accusations that his government is “incredibly blokey”.

Under a shakeup last month, strategy is set – on handling the pandemic, Brexit, the economy and the climate emergency – by small committees of cabinet ministers, each chaired by the prime minister.

But there is not a single woman sitting four of those committees, while home secretary Priti Patel is the sole female voice on two others.

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The analysis follows widespread criticism that the government is dominated by a very tight inner circle of just Mr Johnson, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings.

The cabinet has not even been consulted on some key decisions – while the daily TV briefings at the height of the pandemic were almost always led by men.

Sam Smethers, the director of the Fawcett Society equality charity, said the government had a “gender blind spot”, telling The Guardian: “They just don’t get it.”

And Jill Rutter, a senior research fellow at UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, said: “It’s Munira Mirza [ the No 10 policy director] and a bunch of blokes. I think this is an incredibly blokey government.

“When you see their spokespeople, it looks a bit like a throwback to the 1960s – without Barbara Castle.”

Ms Rutter also pointed to recent appointments of officials, such as the new permanent secretary at No 10, Simon Case, with two male senior directors, Tom Shinner and Simon Ridley, under him.

Meanwhile, Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s Department for International Development is about to be axed, with Liz Truss’s Department for International Trade also facing a possible merger.

The criticism follows the furore over continued restrictions on beauty salon treatments, while men can be shaved by barbers – attacked as sexist.

When a so-called “save summer six” group of ministers was set to kickstart the economic recovery, all were men.

Tim Montgomerie, the former Downing Street adviser who attacked Mr Cummings’ cast-iron grip on No 10, called it “Dom’s frat house”, complete with macho nicknames.

And the prime minister was criticised for recently dropped to the floor to perform a press-up for photographers, in an attempt to prove his fitness.

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