Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne.
Angela Rayner has hit back at a suggestion in a national newspaper that she would try to ‘distract’ Boris Johnson in the House of Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs.
The Mail on Sunday claimed some unnamed Tory MPs said the Ashton-under-Lyne MP had tried to put the Prime Minister ‘out of his stride’.
The story drew widespread criticism, including from MPs and Mr Johnson himself, and the comments made in it were roundly condemned as sexist.
The newspaper reported that unnamed senior Tories had ‘maliciously’ suggested the deputy Labor leader deploy what he called ‘a fully dressed parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct’. .
The article quoted a Tory MP saying: ‘She knows she can’t compete with Boris’ Oxford Union debate training, but she has other skills she lacks. She admitted it while having a drink with us on the [Commons] terrace.”
It also contrasted Ms Rayner’s background, as a former carer who left school aged 16 without qualifications, with that of the Premier of Old Etonian.
Ms Rayner stood in for Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer on several occasions during Prime Minister’s Questions.
In a statement on her social media accounts, Ms Rayner called the article “gutter journalism” and said she “will not let their despicable lies deter me”.
She wrote: “Women in politics face sexism and misogyny on a daily basis – and I am no different. This morning is the latest dose of gutter journalism courtesy of the Mail on Sunday.
“I am accused of a ‘ploy’ to ‘distract’ the impotent Prime Minister – by being a woman, having legs and wearing clothes. I conspire to “disrupt” him. The rest I won’t repeat – but you get the picture.
‘Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted to spreading desperate and evil smears in their doomed attempts to save his ass. They know exactly what they are doing. The lies they tell.
“The pot biography is given – my full education, my experience as a caregiver, my family, my class, my background. The implication is clear.
“But it is the Prime Minister who is dragging the Conservative Party down the drain – and the anonymous Tory MPs bidding on him are complicit. He and his cheerleaders clearly have a big problem with women in public life. They should be ashamed of themselves.
“I will not let their vile lies deter me. Their attempts to harass and intimidate me will fail. I was open about how I had to struggle to get to where I am today. I’m proud of my journey, I’m proud of who I am and where I come from – but it took time.
“I hope this experience won’t put off a single person like me, with a background like mine who aspires to participate in public life. It would break my heart.
“We need more people in politics with backgrounds like mine – and less as a hobby to help their comrades.
“Thank you to so many of you for your messages of solidarity and support. For calling it what it is. You are taking a stand in the name of decency – against those who would further magnify, belittle and belittle our politics for the benefit of their own interests. We all deserve so much better.
Mr Johnson has contacted Ms Rayner privately to clarify that he considers the claims about her to be misogynistic.
The prime minister also tweeted on Sunday: “While I disagree with Angela Rayner on nearly every policy issue, I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.”
Technology Minister Chris Philip told Sky News on Monday that Tory whips will ‘check if they know’ who made the comments and if the source is discovered they are likely to be ‘subject to disciplinary action’.
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