"It was also steeped in classism as well and about where I come from and how I grew up"
Angela Rayner has said that the Mail on Sunday (MoS) story printed about her, which accused her of a ‘Basic Instinct’ ploy to distract Boris Johnson, was not only sexist but also steeped in classism.
The deputy leader of the Labour Party told ITV’s Lorraine this morning that she had begged the Mail on Sunday not to publish the piece and that she was horrified at the story, saying she felt really let down about how it would impact her children.
Upon learning that the MoS was intending to run the story, Rayner says she told them: “This is disgusting. It’s completely untrue. Please don’t run a story like that … I was with my teenage sons … trying to prepare my children for seeing things online. They don’t want to see their mum portrayed that way and I felt really down about that.”
Rayner also added: “It wasn’t just about me as woman, saying that I was using the fact that I’m a woman against the Prime Minister – which I think is quite condescending to the Prime Minister as well and shows you what his MPs think about his behaviour.
“It was also steeped in classism as well and about where I come from and how I grew up and the fact that I must be thick and I must be stupid because I went to a comprehensive school.”
The MoS article included claims from several Conservative MPs that Rayner “mischievously” tries to impede Boris Johnson at PMQs by crossing and uncrossing her legs.
The newspaper said the claims drew a parallel to an infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct during which Sharon Stone’s character is seen crossing and uncrossing her legs.
It also quotes an anonymous Tory MP saying: “She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.”
Following publication of the disgraceful piece, Rayner received an outpouring of support from the public and all political parties.
She said: “Actually the response from the public, from all political parties, from leadership across the whole political spectrum, has been to condemn it,” adding: “That’s heartened me.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward