Sir Keir Starmer on This Morning: Labour leader says Angela Rayner article was ‘rank sexism, rank misogyny’

The Labour leader said there would be ‘zero tolerance’ for such behaviour in his own party

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told ITV’s This Morning today (Monday 25 April) that a controversial Mail on Sunday story about Angela Rayner was “rank sexism, rank misogyny”.

The article claimed that an unnamed Tory MP had told the newspaper Ms Rayner crossed and uncrossed her legs on the Labour front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions to try to distract Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister wrote to Ms Rayner to insist the claims reportedly made about her by an unidentified Tory MP were not in his name.

Sir Keir has called for an end to the “misogynist” culture at Westminster and told This Morning there would be “zero tolerance” for these attitudes in his own party.

Sir Keir Starmer appeared on This Morning to discuss the Angela Rayner article (Photos: ITV / PA)

What did Keir Starmer say?

Appearing on This Morning on Monday (25 April), the Labour leader told the programme that Ms Rayner was “really disgusted that all of her political attributes were put aside for this ridiculous, offensive story.”

He said: “She shouldn’t have to put up with it but all women in politics shouldn’t have to put up with it.

“Almost every woman in politics has had an element of this in some shape or form.

“We have got to change the culture.”

The Labour leader explained how he would look into it within his party if it ever surfaced.

He added: “We will be absolutely on it with zero tolerance.

“There shouldn’t be a party political divide on this.”

Meanwhile the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the article suggesting Ms Rayner tries to distract Boris Johnson with “Basic Instinct” tactics “shines a spotlight” on the sexism and misogyny that women face daily in Parliament.

She said: “I think that too many people think this sort of thing is just acceptable so it’s got to be called out and right from the top.

“But there are just too many stories and not just of sexism, but also things like… we’ve got a Conservative MP in Wakefield who’s been convicted of sexual offences against a child. He’s still a Member of Parliament. He hasn’t handed in his resignation yet.”

She added: “We’ve got to sort out Parliament so that the vetting system of who can be an MP is improved, the processes within parties improved, but also to make Parliament more welcoming for people, including women.”

What was the Mail on Sunday story?

The article claimed that an unnamed Tory MP had told the newspaper Ms Rayner crossed and uncrossed her legs on the Labour front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions in an attempt to distract Mr Johnson.

The paper likened the claims to a scene from the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct and said she was trying to put the PM “off his stride”.

On Sunday (24 April), Ms Rayner called the story “desperate” and “perverted”.

In a series of tweets, Ms Rayner lashed out at the “lies”.

She said: “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.”

She added: “I won’t be letting their vile lies deter me. Their attempts to harass and intimidate me will fail.”

She said Mr Johnson and his backers “clearly have a big problem with women in public life” and that they “should be ashamed of themselves”.

How have Tory MPs responded?

Ms Rayner quickly received solidarity from across the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister was among those to publicly condemn the claims on Twitter.

He wrote: “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.”

Meanwhile the Treasury minister Simon Clarke retweeted Mr Johnson’s message, and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries copy-and-pasted the same tweet.

On Sunday evening, the Tory chairman of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, Caroline Nokes, revealed she had written to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, to suggest the journalist who wrote the story be formally censured.

The Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North told LBC the Tory MP sources who were behind the article should be “hanging their heads in shame”.