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Angela Rayner denounces Tory ‘smears’ about claims she ‘distracts’ the PM

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Angela Rayner has accused Tory MPs of using anonymous briefings to spread “desperate, perverted smears” about her by claiming she has sought to distract the Prime Minister provocatively in the Commons.

Boris Johnson, in a show of support for the deputy Labour leader, said he “deplored the misogyny directed at her anonymously”.

The Mail On Sunday (MoS) reported that Conservatives had claimed Ms Rayner enjoyed attempting to put Mr Johnson “off his stride” during Prime Minister’s Questions by “crossing and uncrossing her legs”.

Ms Rayner often sits next to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and opposite the Prime Minister during the weekly Commons clashes.

She has also stood in for Sir Keir at PMQs when he has been forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus.

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

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP 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. The lies they are telling.”

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”.

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

Sir Keir said the sexism displayed by those briefing the Sunday paper was a “disgraceful new low from a party mired in scandal and chaos”.

Tulip Siddiq, the shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said the accusations were “disgraceful”.

The Labour politician told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “At the end of the day, Angela Rayner is an MP who was elected on merit.

“To talk about the fact she is using her legs or her posture to manipulate the Prime Minister is ridiculous and I’m really upset about it.”

One Tory MP is said to have told the MoS: “She (Ms Rayner) knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.

“She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the (Commons) terrace.”

As deputy opposition leader, Angela Rayner sits opposite Boris Johnson in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)
As deputy opposition leader, Angela Rayner sits opposite Boris Johnson in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Johnson tweeted: “As much as I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost every political issue, I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.”

Ms Rayner thanked the Conservative Party leader for standing up for her.

When asked on Sophy Ridge about the coverage, Tory chairman Oliver Dowden said he did not recognise the claims attributed to his party’s MPs.

Former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said she agreed with Ms Rayner’s assessment that she had been targeted for being a woman.

“Really sorry Angela. Totally unacceptable comments,” the Tory MP tweeted.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “If an MP or MPs really said this then it’s utterly shameful.

“No woman in politics should have to put up with this.”

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