Angela Rayner hits back at ‘vile lies’ that she uses ‘ploy’ to distract Boris Johnson during PMQs

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has hit back at ‘vile lies’ from Conservative MPs who claim in a widely-criticised article that she crosses and uncrosses her legs in PMQs in order to distract the Prime Minister. The Mail On Sunday’s politics editor Glen Owen reports that Tory MPs like the Greater Manchester MP’s ‘ploy’ to Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct.

The extraordinary newspaper story, which has been condemned online for blatant sexism, claims Ms Rayner ‘likes to put Mr Johnson off his stride’ in the Commons chamber when they clash at Prime Minister’s Questions. An anonymous MP is quoted, who suggests Ms Rayner ‘can’t compete’ with Boris Johnson’s Oxford Union debate training, adding: “but she has other skills which he lacks.”

References to the 42-year-old’s working-class background and comprehensive education are made, to which Ms Rayner says she is ‘proud of’. She responded to the ‘desperate, perverted smears’ with a nine-tweet thread, where she addresses everyday sexism as a woman in politics.

READ MORE: Three cabinet ministers and two shadow ministers reported over ‘sexual misconduct’ claims

The Ashton-Under-Lyne MP wrote: “Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day – and I’m no different. I stand accused of a “ploy” to “distract” the helpless PM – by being a woman, having legs and wearing clothes.I am conspiring to “put him off his stride”.

“The rest I won’t repeat – but you get the picture. Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted to spreading desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin. They know exactly what they are doing. The lies they are telling.

“The potted biography is given – my comprehensive education, my experience as a care worker, my family, my class, my background. The implication is clear.

“But it is the PM who is dragging the Conservative Party into the sewer – and the anonymous Tory MPs doing his bidding are complicit. He and his cheerleaders clearly have a big problem with women in public life. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“I won’t be letting their vile lies deter me. Their attempts to harass and intimidate me will fail. I’ve been open about how I’ve had to struggle to get where I am today. I’m proud of my background , I’m proud of who I am and where I’m from – but it’s taken time.

Tory MPs claim Angela Rayner distracts the PM in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs

“I hope this experience doesn’t put off a single person like me, with a background like mine from aspiring to participate in public life. That would break my heart. We need more people in politics with backgrounds like mine – and fewer as a hobby to help their mates.

“Thank you to so many of you for your messages of solidarity and support. For calling this out for what it is. You are making a stand in the name of decency – against those who would further coarsen, cheapen and debase our politics to benefit their own interests. We all deserve so much better.”

Referencing the article, Labor MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “Jesus this Angela Rayner at PMQs story is a genuine new low. A) women sometimes move we are not mannequins B) if women moving puts off PM maybe don’t mention that while also painting him as a great war leader…our enemies will simply employ some women to shimmy. C) WT current F”.

Conservative Party Chair, Oliver Dowden, has dismissed the claims made in the Mail on Sunday article. “This is a totally ludicrous story that I don’t recognize in any way at all,” Mr Dowden told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday programme.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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