Angela Rayner says 'cultural shift' needed following 'Basic Instinct' comments published in Mail on Sunday
Angela Rayner has said a “cultural shift” is needed following sexist comments made about her distracting Prime Minister Boris Johnson with her legs in the Commons.
The Labour deputy leader said she was “crestfallen” at sexist claims by anonymous Conservatives about her, which were run in an article in The Mail On Sunday newspaper on the weekend.
There was outrage across the political spectrum after the paper reported the claims, including a quote from one MP that Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks”.
There was a claim the opposition deputy leader purposefully crossed and uncrossed her legs to “distract” Mr Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Addressing the claims, Ms Rayner told ITV’S Lorraine: “There’s still so much more for us to do.
“We have got to teach our sons to be respectful of women and we’ve got to teach our women to be confident about themselves as well.”
Ms Rayner wore a trouser suit for her appearance on ITV because she said did not want to be “judged for what I wear”.
The MP 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.”
Ms Rayner said she was “overwhelmed” when she heard the story was coming out.
She said: “We rebutted it instantly and were 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.
“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 said the article was “steeped in classism” and insinuated she must be “thick” because she went to a comprehensive school and she was “promiscuous” because she had a child when she was young.
Mr Johnson has condemned the “misogynistic tripe” aimed at the Labour deputy leader describing the “sexist” claims as“appalling”.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he expected those behind the story would face punishment if their identity was ever revealed.
He said: “They have allegedly come from a Conservative MP who is not even brave enough to put their name to it. They should be ashamed of language like that.
“Angela Rayner is a political opponent of mine who I disagree with on many policy issues, but I have never questioned her integrity, her passion, her commitment and I just think this is the worst of politics.
“It’s the type of thing that can put people off, particularly women.”
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