CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has sparked a sexism storm by saying driving trains is now so easy “even” a woman can do it.
He made the remark in front of the whole Cabinet — shocking female colleagues, including the PM.
It led to a withering slap-down from Theresa May.
Pauline Cawood, 53, a train driver for more than 20 years, said: “It’s an old-fashioned, sexist comment. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”
She added: “Women are just as capable as men at driving trains. What’s that man been doing for the past 50-odd years?
“Probably sat in a gentleman’s club smoking cigars and drinking whisky.”
Mr Hammond’s comment on Tuesday during a discussion about rail strikes is revealed by political commentator James Forsyth in his column in The Sun today.
Moaning about the stranglehold unions have on picking train staff, the Chancellor, 61, asked why it is so rare to see female train drivers.
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He argued that driving a modern locomotive was so simple now that “even they can do it”.
His remark caused fury around the table.
And when he tried to dig himself out of the embarrassing hole, he was interrupted by Mrs May, who said: “Chancellor, I am going to take your shovel away from you.”
Around 5.5 per cent of the 19,000 train drivers in Britain are female, up from 4.2 per cent in 2012.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “Philip Hammond has disgraced himself with this remark, as well as managing to insult half the country’s population.”
A source close to Mr Hammond strongly denied that he made the sexist comment, insisting he would never even think in those terms.
The Chancellor’s allies also said the phrase was uttered by another minister unfairly at the Cabinet meeting which wrongly caricatured his position.