Who does Britain have to thank for its most diverse Parliament ever?
Not the Conservatives, said Tory House of Lords member Anne Jenkin, otherwise known as Baroness Jenkin of Kennington. “Parliament is more diverse than ever before, and has the highest level ever of female MPs, but that’s because of the Labour Party, to my disappointment.”
Speaking during a dinner at the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in London on Monday evening, Jenkin said that when she was asked to make the MPW speech, long before the election, she had assumed that she would talk about the Conservative Party’s increase in the number of female Members of Parliament.
“Seven years ago we had just 17 female MPs, but as we went into the election we reached 70,” she said. “Today, sadly, we have just 67 Conservative women MPs, an extremely disappointing result. Women on the brink of becoming MPs, who have worked their socks off, have had to rethink their lives.”
Jenkin also said she was extremely disappointed by the indecisive result of the U.K.’s election last Thursday.
“It’s rather ironic that you’re here listening to someone from the Conservative Party talking about power—after all, [we] spent the last six weeks almost losing grip on it,” she jokingly told Summit attendees, adding: “We learned an important lesson: that campaigns do matter.”
The Baroness said that the morning after the election she wanted to “hide under the duvet” and pull out from making her MPW speech. “It was the last thing I felt capable of giving,” she added.
However, Jenkin said she has learned that she has to use her position of power to help other women progress. “There’s that famous quote about there being a special place deserved in hell for women who don’t help other women,” she said. “My new power is to ensure I don’t end up there.”