Johnson says Tory MP who made Rayner 'Basic Instinct' claim faces 'terrors of the earth'

25 April 2022, 07:54 | Updated: 25 April 2022, 20:24

Boris Johnson has written to Angela Rayner to distance himself from the 'Basic Instinct' claim.
Boris Johnson has written to Angela Rayner to distance himself from the 'Basic Instinct' claim. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson has said the Conservative MP who made 'Basic Instinct' claims about Angela Rayner will face "the terrors of the earth" if they are ever identified.

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The Prime Minister condemned the "misogynistic tripe" directed at the deputy Labour leader after she was accused of trying to distract him in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs.

This was compared to Sharon Stone's infamous scene in the film Basic Instinct.

The Mail on Sunday report sparked outrage across the political spectrum, and included a quote from an MP that Ms Rayner "knows she can't compete with Boris's Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks".

Mr Johnson told reporters: "I have to say I thought it was the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe.

"I immediately got in touch with Angela and we had a very friendly exchange."

Read more: Rayner hits out at Tory MPs' 'desperate, perverted smears' after Basic Instinct claims

In a King Lear reference, he threatened to unleash "the terrors of the earth" on the source behind the comments if they were ever identified.

"If we ever find who is responsible for it, I don't know what we will do, but they will be the terrors of the earth," he said.

"It's totally intolerable, that kind of thing."

In an update this afternoon, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle described the article as "offensive" and said he is going to meet with the editor of the Mail on Sunday.

The Prime Minister earlier attempted to distance himself from the widely-condemned newspaper reports, which have been criticised by the deputy Labour leader as being "desperate, perverted smears".

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves condemned the "pathetic" claims made by Tory MPs.

"Angela Rayner is a brilliant politician who can give the Prime Minister a run for his money at the despatch box," she told Nick.

Read more: Ben Kentish's clash with caller who says Rayner 'flaunts herself' like a 'prostitute'

"She doesn't have to use her looks or the fact that she's a woman to win a political debate, she does it by the force of argument, and to suggest otherwise I just think is pathetic."

The Shadow Chancellor also said she doesn't think there is a "single female MP or member of staff who hasn't had to put up with sexism of misogyny in the House of Commons.

She said there are instances of sexism and misogyny in Parliament "every day".

Technology Minister Chris Philp said "misogynistic and disgraceful" claims about Angela Rayner have "no place in civilised political discourse".

Asked what he would say to Conservative colleagues if they have been briefing out these comments, the Tory MP told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast he thinks it's "disgraceful".

"The comments about Angela Rayner were quite clearly misogynistic, offensive, and disgraceful," he said.

"I've never heard anyone say those things but if I did I'd certainly call it out straight away. It's disgraceful. No one in public life should receive that sort of misogynistic, offensive, abuse. It's got no place in civilised political discourse."

Tory MP Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, told LBC she wants the journalists responsible for the MoS piece to be held to account.

"There's many aspects of the culture that we have to overcome, but first and foremost, it is disgraceful that colleagues are running to the newspapers with pathetic stories like this and they should be hanging their heads in shame this morning," she told Swarbrick on Sunday.

She added: "I don't think it is exclusively the Conservative party. I think all parties have a problem with women and we saw at the last election a number of high profile Labour women leave politics altogether... I sometimes bump into them and they tell me they feel nothing but relief for having done so."