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John Prescott Says He Only Knows Tory Minister Esther McVey Because Of Her Dress

The former deputy minister told BuzzFeed News he liked the "lovely dress" the work and pensions minister wore outside No. 10. "It's not sexist," he insisted.

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Labour peer John Prescott has revealed that he only knows employment minister Esther McVey because of the "lovely dress" she wore in Downing Street.

Emily Ashton / BuzzFeed

The former deputy prime minister was campaigning in Wirral West, where Conservative candidate McVey is fighting to retain the seat.

He told a crowd of Labour activists on West Kirby beach: "What is it, Esther McKay [sic] is her name? She's a tough girl, isn't she. She's very tough.

"I know I'm told not to say this, but that was a lovely dress she was wearing when she was announced as minister. Oh, anti-woman, I know. Oh, why not, my wife dresses up all the time – I'm more concerned with her head than her dress."

BuzzFeed News pressed the Labour politician on whether he really didn't know McVey from her role as employment minister.

"I know because I remember the dress," he replied. "That's terrible, you might say, but you know, we're talking about images, she deliberately went out, but when she appeared outside No. 10 that wasn't something she threw on from Primark, was it?"

McVey wore this outfit in Downing Street last July when David Cameron announced a reshuffle.

Stefan Rousseau / PA Archive

She remained employment minister but was also given a seat at the cabinet table, the top level of UK government.

Prescott demonstrated a pose for BuzzFeed News as he talked about McVey's dress.

"Was it like this or summat, outside No. 10?" he said.

"Well, why not – if she wanted to make that message I'm not against that and it's not sexist. Women after all, you use clothes much more attractively than men, men just have suits. I would think she would say it was sexist but it's not, to my mind anyway."

Asked whether being welfare minister would help or hinder McVey's campaign to be re-elected in Wirral West, he replied: "I don't know, I haven't got a judgment about it. All I'm saying – you ask me what I knew of her, the only image I really saw is her outside No. 10 with a nice new dress on.

"But if you told her that, she'd say, 'Oh, typical sexism.' It's not – she chose to use that and it was very smart, a nice style. She chose to make that statement, fine."

Prescott later posed for selfies with teenagers on the beach who informed him what BuzzFeed was.

Emily Ashton / BuzzFeed

Prescott said also that Labour leader Ed Miliband was getting more confident ahead of the general election.

"You can see he's grown in confidence, can't you, and people can see that," he said. "The image in the media is not exactly what they're seeing on the television.

"And that's brought about the perception that's starting to change. And he's not ducking debates – he'll do them wherever they are."

Asked whether he would be a minister in a Miliband-led government, Prescott replied: "No, no, no."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

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