Angela Rayner is accused of calling Tory MP 'scum' after he claims Labour are exploiting Covid-19 crisis

April Roach
·2-min read
Conservative MP Chris Clarkson accused Angela Rayner of calling him 'scum' during a coronavirus debate: Parliament TV
Conservative MP Chris Clarkson accused Angela Rayner of calling him 'scum' during a coronavirus debate: Parliament TV

Labour's deputy leader has been accused of calling a Tory MP "scum" after he suggested members of her party believed the coronavirus pandemic was a "good crisis" to exploit.

Conservative MP Chris Clarkson was speaking about "opportunism" during the Labour-led debate on economic support for areas with greater restrictions, when he claims the insult was hurled at him.

Tensions in the House of Commons were high following the collapse of talks between the Government and Greater Manchester leaders over a financial package for the region as it entered Tier 3 restrictions.

Mr Clarkson told MPs: "I implore members opposite to park the opportunism.

“I know (Kate Green) thinks this is a good crisis that the Labour Party should exploit, and I know she speaks for a lot of her frontbench colleagues when she says that – you just need to see it in the support, U-turn, oppose approach that has characterised their hindsight-heavy behaviour.”

The MP for Heywood and Middleton paused his speech after the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner heckled him from the Labour front bench.

Mr Clarkson replied: “Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?”

Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing interrupted proceedings saying: “Order, order, order. From the front bench we do not have remarks like that. Not under any circumstances, no matter how heartfelt it might be. Not at all.”

Making a point of order in response to the accusation, Ms Rayner said: “I think one of the things I’d ask for your guidance on is (Chris Clarkson) saying things about the front bench which is inaccurate in their speech and I’d ask them to withdraw it.”

Dame Eleanor replied: “It is not for the chair to decide what is accurate or inaccurate, I cannot make such a judgment.

“But of course, I will ask (Mr Clarkson) to be reasonable in what he says and to be careful of his remarks.

“And I’m sure that if (Mr Clarkson) feels that he has said anything that is offensive to (Ms Rayner) then he will undoubtedly withdraw and apologise immediately.”

Resuming his speech, Mr Clarkson said: “Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and thank you for your guidance. To clarify, I asked (Ms Rayner) if she called me that (scum) – that is what I heard.”

Mr Clarkson then continued with his speech without withdrawing his earlier comments.

Conservative MP Sara Britcliffe later said of Ms Rayner: “The attitude that I’ve just seen in this chamber is what turned many of my residents against the Labour Party. It’s unacceptable.”

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