Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has spoken about her experience with sexism after a controversial news article was published by the Mail on Sunday.
The newspaper has been critisiced for publishing a story in which they compared Ms Rayner to Sharon Stone in reference to the infamous leg crossing scene in Basic Instinct.
An unamed Tory MP told reporters they believed Ms Rayner was attempting to “distract” Boris Johnson in the House of Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs.
Now, the deptuy leader has hit out at the “disgusting” story and has revealed that she begged the publication not to publish it.
What did Angela Rayner say about the Mail on Sunday story?
Ms Rayner made an appearance on ITV’s popular morning magazine show Lorraine where she spoke about her experience.
She revealed the Mail on Sunday had contacted her for comment on the story before it was published and in her response, she begged political editor Glen Owen to not run the story.
Ms Rayner told presenter Lorraine Kelly: “I’ve been overwhelmed because, when I heard the story was coming out and we rebutted it instantly, and was like ‘This is disgusting, it’s completely untrue. Please don’t run a story like that.’
“I felt really sad … I was trying to prepare my children for seeing things online that they don’t want to see their mum portrayed that way.”
The story in question quoted an unamed Tory source who said that Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks”.
She has lambasted these claims as being “steeped in classism”, and said the article insinuated she must be “thick” because she went to a comprehensive school and she is “promiscuous” because she had a child when she was 16.
She said: “I felt it was quite offensive to people from my background.”
However, she has said the public outcry over the article has left her “overwhelmed”, adding: “All I worry about when I’m at the despatch box is doing a good job and being able to do justice to my constituents and the work I’m doing, so I was just really crestfallen that somebody had said that to a paper and a paper was reporting that.”
Ms Rayner, who wore a full suit during television appearance, said she chose not to wear a dress on the morning show because she did not want to be “judged for what I wear”.
She said: “I wanted to be defiant as well, because I don’t think that women should be told how to dress – but I didn’t want to distract from the fact that, actually, it’s not about my legs.
“I didn’t want people at home thinking ‘Let’s have a look to see what her legs are like and how short her skirt is or not’.
“Because I feel like I’m being judged for what I wear, rather than what I’m saying to you and how I come across.”
She added a “cultural shift” is needed in the House of Commons, after the story was sourced from an unamed Tory MP.
What has Boris Johnson said about the story?
The Mail on Sunday has faced fierce backlash for its story, with Mr Owen even theatened with the removal of his Westminster lobby press pass.
MPs from across the politcial spectrum have also lambasted the newspaper and the unamed source for the story.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that any Tory source who was found to have shared the story with the Mail on Sunday would be punished.
Mr Johnson, who described the story as “the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe”, added: “I immediately got in touch with Angela and we had a very friendly exchange.”
What have others said about the Mail on Sunday story?
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also hit out at the “disgusting” story which represented “rank sexism and rank misogyny”.
He echoed Ms Rayner calls for a change in culture in parliament, saying: “The Speaker obviously needs to be happy that the way we all treat each other in Parliament is appropriate and with respect and obviously he will make his own decisions in that respect.
“But I think all of us have got a responsibility not just to call this out but to renew our determination to change the culture in parliament because this is awful for Angela.”
“I’ve got a young girl and I worry about her seeing this environment. We all have to change it.”
Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle has also commented on the article, adding that he will meet with Mr Owen and Mail on Sunday editor David Dillion to discuss the story.