'The Mail on Sunday is a disgrace. Solidarity to Angela Rayner'
The Mail on Sunday has been condemned for publishing a sexist and misogynistic article about Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, which accused her of a ‘Basic Instinct’ ploy to distract Boris Johnson.
The story includes 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.
“She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace.”
The appalling claims have led to widespread criticism of the Mail on Sunday as well as its political editor Glen Owen for writing the piece.
Rayner tweeted a rebuttal to the article, saying women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day.
She said: “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.”
Rayner also said that she wouldn’t allow vile lies to deter her and that she was proud of her background and where she was from.
“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,” she added.
“That would break my heart”.
Boris Johnson has written to Rayner to insist that misogynistic claims reportedly made about her by an unidentified Tory MP were not in his name, according to the Telegraph. Johnson also took to Twitter to condemn the claims of the Mail on Sunday story.
He tweeted: “As much as I disagree with (Ms) Rayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer also condemned the story and quotes from Tory MPs, tweeting: “The sexism and misogyny peddled by the Tories is a disgraceful new low from a party mired in scandal and chaos.”
The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon said: “Solidarity from across the political divide to Angela Rayner on this. It’s a reminder of the deep misogyny women face every day.
“Tho the line about Johnson’s Oxford debating ‘skills’ is truly laughable – from what I’ve seen she can debate him out the park!”
Labour MP Bill Esterton tweeted: “The Mail on Sunday is a disgrace. Solidarity to @AngelaRayner”.
Conservative minister Chris Philp told Sky News today that Tory whips will be “looking at whether they know” who made comments about Rayner to the Mail on Sunday and that if the source were found then they would likely be ‘subject to discipline’.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward