Esther McVey makes ‘embarrassing’ mistake while criticising Just Stop Oil stunt at National Gallery

Esther McVey makes ‘embarrassing’ mistake while criticising Just Stop Oil stunt at National Gallery
Just Stop Oil protesters smash painting with hammers in London's National Gallery
Just Stop Oil

Esther McVey, the GB News contributor who breached Ofcom impartiality rules with husband Philip Davies over an interview with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt earlier this year, has experienced another “embarrassing” moment this week, when she made a shocking factual error while trying to criticise Just Stop Oil protesters.

Two individuals from the group, which calls on the government to stop new oil and gas licences, used hammers to smash the glass protecting a painting in London’s National Gallery on Monday.

In a video of the incident shared by Just Stop Oil on social media, 22-year-old Hanan can be heard saying afterwards: “Women did not get the vote by voting; it is time for deeds and not words. It is time to Just Stop Oil.”

Harrison, 20, added: “Politics is failing us. Politics failed women in 1914.

“Millions will die due to new oil and gas licences – millions. If we love history, if we love art, and if we love our families, we must Just Stop Oil.”

In their statement on the situation, the National Gallery said “the room was cleared of visitors and police were called” after the stunt took place just before 11am, with the two individuals arrested over the action.

“The painting is now being removed from display so it can be examined by Conservators,” it reads.

The painting itself has some history in being caught up in protest actions, as The Toilet of Venus (The Rokeby Venus) by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez was targeted by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914, who slashed the painting with a meat cleaver following the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Except, rather than point out the suffragette’s previous damage to the 17th century artwork, McVey took to X (formerly Twitter) to claim the painting itself depicted the political activists who called for women to be given the right to vote.

“Vandalism plain and simple. How dare these criminals storm our National Gallery and use hammers to smash a painting depicting the suffragette movement pretending to be raising concerns about the environment.

“Call them out for what they are – vandals and hooligans,” she fumed.

It doesn’t, just to be clear. The National Gallery itself describes the painting as showing a nude Venus, the Roman goddess of love, being “attended by “The Three Graces”.


And other X users haven’t hesitated in ridiculing the Conservative MP for the mishap:

Just Stop Oil’s controversial action comes just over a year since members of the group thew tomato soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers painting – also housed at the National Gallery.

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