Angela Rayner continues to stoke ‘scum’ row with Tories

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Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has continued to stoke the row after she called senior Tories “scum” – despite colleagues including Sir Keir Starmer distancing themselves from her remarks.

Ms Rayner challenged Boris Johnson on Monday to sit down with her and apologise for his own “racist, homophobic and sexist” comments before she says sorry for her verbal attack on Conservatives.

She tweeted that people “seem to be far more concerned with my choice of language” than the Prime Minister’s own “racist, homophobic and sexist” comments.

“I’m very happy to sit down with Boris. If he withdraws his comments and apologises, I’ll be very happy to apologise to him,” the Ashton-under-Lyne MP added.

She attached reports of Mr Johnson using offensive remarks such as comparing burka-wearing Muslim women to “letter boxes” and describing gay men as “tank-topped bum boys”.

Ms Rayner continued the row after Labour leader Sir Keir distanced himself from her choice of words and said he would speak to her about the remarks.

Watch: Angela Rayner jokes she's "choosing her words carefully" at Labour rally

Her initial attack, delivered at a reception for activists at the Labour Party conference, outraged members of the Government, with one minister accusing her of “talking crap”.

The Daily Mirror reported that at the event in Brighton on Saturday night, Ms Rayner said: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile… banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum.”

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (Michael M Santiago/PA)

Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry suggested people had been drinking at the event on Saturday.

“What she was doing at a fringe meeting – where there may have been drink partaken… People just need to know the atmosphere, it was not a sitting around, considered debate.”

She told the BBC: ““She probably shouldn’t have said scum, but the rest of it – of course.”

Sir Keir told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One on Sunday that he and Ms Rayner “take different approaches and that’s not language that I would use”.

Asked about Ms Rayner’s remarks, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It is entirely a matter for her how she chooses her comments.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said voters can see a Tory party which has had two female prime ministers and the “most diverse government” and “they’ll know she’s talking crap”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Ms Rayner’s verbal attack was “absolutely appalling”, telling Sky News: “There’s no place in public life for that sort of language, that sort of behaviour.”

But veteran Tory MP James Gray opened the Conservatives to criticism after he suggested a bomb should be planted in Labour frontbencher Anneliese Dodd’s office.

Mr Gray apologised for the “foolish remark”, made in a WhatsApp group with fellow Tory MPs.

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