Boris Johnson joins MPs condemning ‘misogynistic, degrading and sexist’ Angela Rayner article

Misogynistic, degrading and sexist are some of the reactions given to claims Tory MPs have accused Angela Rayner of deliberately trying to distract Boris Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs in the Commons.

Anger is mounting over a report that Tories have likened Labour’s deputy leader to Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct.

The Prime Minister joined MPs condemning the article and said: “As much as I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost every political issue, I respect her as a parliamentarian and I deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.”

The report published in the Mail on Sunday claimed 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 as saying: “She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.

“She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace.”

The report also makes references to the 42-year-old’s working-class background, and describes her as “a socialist grandmother who left school at 16 while pregnant and with no qualifications before becoming a care worker”.

The claims made in the article have sparked a furious reaction from MPs, journalists and commentators who have condemned the article for displaying blatant sexism.

Tory MP Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, denounced it as a “dirty, little story” and told LBC radio the colleagues behind the story should “hang their heads in shame”.

“It is disgraceful that colleagues are running to the newspapres with pathetic stories like this and they should be hanging their heads in shame this morning. They ought to know better,” she said.

Ms Nokes suggested the Chief Whip should “send a very stern message to colleagues: don’t try and peddle stories like this”.

She also added that the Speaker of the House of Commons should “have a word with those journalists” responsible for reporting stories such as it is “bad for our democracy” as it deters women from entering politics.

Former Tory leadership contender Andrea Leadsom also came out in solidarity with Ms Rayner, and wrote on Twitter: “I totally agree with Angela – really sorry Angela. Totally unacceptable comments and reporting.”

Ms Rayner has also responded and said she had no doubt that the Prime Minister himself was behind what she called the “desperate, perverted smears”.

“Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day – and I’m no different,” she wrote on Twitter.

“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.”

More from politics

Helen Hayes, Labor MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, said: “The Mail on Sunday article on the Deputy Leader of Labor Party shows the horrible level of everyday misogyny that women in public life still endure

“But really, is ‘Pathetic man can’t stop looking at woman’s legs’ all they’ve got left? Solidarity with Angela Rayner.”

SNP MP Hanna Bardell decried the comments as “what utter barrel scraping garbage”.

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) Current WT F”.

Former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, responded: “I have no words that adequately express how misogynistic this is.”

Sky’s Beth Rigby added: “Have I been transported back to 1950s? What a misognyistic tripe.”

Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden dismissed the claims on Sunday morning, and toldSky News’s Ridge on Sunday programme: “This is a totally ludicrous story that I don’t recognize in any way at all.”

But Tulip Siddiq, a Labor shadow treasury spokeswoman, hit out at Mr Dowden in failing to go further in criticizing the story.

“I think he should have been stronger in condemning this,” she told the same 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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