Question Time audience slams Labour MP Tracy Brabin’s off the shoulder dress


A Question Time audience member has slammed the dress at the centre of the ‘shouldergate’ row as ‘like a disco outfit’.

The guest branded what Tracy Brabin wore at the despatch box in the House of Commons ‘inappropriate’.

The furore erupted when the 58-year-old Labour MP’s black off-the-shoulder dress slipped down her arm on Monday.

The shadow culture secretary was criticised for the ‘inappropriate’ Westminster attire and called a ‘hungover tart’ by trolls on social media.

She has put the £35 ASOS dress on eBay to raise money for charity – and bids have topped £1,300.

The Question Time audience member told how she had been asked to dress ‘smart/casual’ for the BBC show, to the surprise of host Fiona Bruce.

The woman continued: ‘So I think there’s a slight hypocrisy there and if I’m looking at the ladies on the panel you’ve all got, well two of you have got jackets on, and you’ve got a smart dress which is buttoned up.’

She added: ‘Why didn’t you wear anything like Tracy Brabin?’

Journalist Rachel Shabi replied: ‘I mean I didn’t wear a cold-shoulder top literally for that reason, because I get a cold shoulder.’

Labour MP for Walthamstow started ‘Why aren’t you asking the men why they chose some of…’ but was interrupted by Ms Bruce.

The host said: ‘Tracy Brabin did say she wasn’t expecting to make a comment at the despatch box and she was actually going out that evening, so she was slightly taken by surprise.

‘Nonetheless she was defending her right to wear what she liked.’

Ms Bruce hit back: ‘So you as a woman are not defending her right to wear what she wants.’

The audience member said: ‘No I think it’s important what she said but I do think that there’s a certain dress code if she’s leading, she should lead by example and I don’t think the off the shoulder was appropriate because it was too much off the shoulder.’

She added: ‘It looked like a disco outfit and not like a politician.’

Ms Brabin, who used to be an actress on Coronation Street, tweeted after the show: ‘Disco outfit now available on eBay with all proceeds going to @Girlguiding.’

Her eBay post had the comment: ‘Black dress worn by Tracy Brabin MP in ‘shouldergate’ as widely covered across the media.

‘This is an ASOS dress which has been flying off the shelves as a result of the coverage – and is now sold out!

‘All money raised will go to Girlguiding UK to support their work helping girls build confidence and self-esteem, in the hope that they grow up to be leaders.’ 

The item has so far received more than 70 bids, with the highest currently at £1,320.

Ms Brabin, who won her seat in the by-election triggered by the death of murdered MP Jo Cox, admitted the dress was off-the-shoulder, but had slipped down further when she leaned across the despatch box to speak.

She claimed her broken ankle meant she had to stoop further while asking a question about the ongoing row about journalists in Downing Street, leaving her arm exposed.

One Twitter user shared a photograph of her wearing the dress and asked: ‘Is this really appropriate attire for parliament?’

Critics including Piers Morgan called the outfit ‘inappropriate for the Commons’.

TV commentator Carole Malone added: ‘It wasn’t just off the shoulder it was completely off the shoulder.

‘There is a dress code in Parliament. If a male MP turned up in joggers and track suit he would be criticised and rightly so. When you wear something like that it detracts form what you’re saying.’

In a sharply worded response, Ms Brabin, who played Tricia Armstrong on Corrie between 1994 and 1997, replied: ‘Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not….

‘A slag, Hungover, A tart, About to breastfeed, A slapper, Drunk, Just been banged over a wheelie bin. Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder.’

She later told Lorraine Kelly on ITV: ‘I had been at an event with UK Music and the thing about the points of order, they come at you as a surprise, so you’re not always camera ready when you are in politics.

‘It did slip slightly, because I have a broken ankle and I had to lean a little bit on the dispatch box.’


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