THERESA May has rebuked her de facto deputy David Lidington after he told Emily Thornberry to “grow up”.

Cabinet Office minister Lidington filled in for May at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday because of her trade visit to China and he and Labour’s shadow foreign secretary clashed repeatedly over a Labour call to lower the voting age to 16.

Thornberry described the Tories and the DUP as a “coalition of cavemen” over their opposition to the move which prompted Lidington to tell the shadow foreign secretary to “grow up”.

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But later the Prime Minister’s spokesman issued a reprimand to Lidington as he said: “The PM would not have used that language.”

During the exchanges at PMQs Conservative male MPs were told off by the Commons speaker for “boorish” and “stupid” behaviour for shouting down women when they spoke.

John Bercow intervened after Thornberry attempted to ask Lidington about the UK Government refusal to lower the voting age, as the Scottish Government has done for Holyrood and council elections.

But as she tried to speak, Tory MPs could be heard shouting in the background, prompting Bercow to deliver his reprimand.

He said: “Order! Order! I’m sure it’ll not have escaped public notice, and it is rather a sad irony, that when a woman is addressing the House, quite a lot of noisy, boorish and in one case a rather stupid individual trying to shout the right honourable lady down.

“Cut it out.”

Thornberry opened her questioning by noting: “I am the only Emily elected since 1918 and he is one of 155 Davids.

“The women behind me on these benches represent one quarter of all the women elected in the last 100 years but it’s still not good enough.”

She asked Lidington how female representation could be increased in the Commons, with the minister initially saying he was delighted to see her in place when “no fewer than 97 members of her frontbench have either been sacked or resigned” since Corbyn became Labour leader.

Lidington agreed all political parties want to encourage more female candidates to come forward, saying Labour had a “bit of catching up to do” given there have been two female Tory leaders.

But Thornberry shot back: “I’ve got to say, if the party opposite is so proud of having a female leader, why are so many of them trying to get rid of her - and why has she had to run away to China to get away from them?”

Later at PMQs, the SNP’s Angela Crawley called for the UK Government to scrap charges for survivors of domestic violence using the Child Maintenance Service, as highlighted in The National earlier this week.

Crawley said survivors have no choice but to use this service for matters of safety. Lidington said there is a government consultation taking place on the matter.

A robin lightened up proceedings, flying around the chamber before settling on top of a camera during Welsh questions.