'They shouldn't have to put up with this crap': Minister slams misogynistic Rayner story

26 April 2022, 08:56 | Updated: 26 April 2022, 09:16

By Sophie Barnett

Female MPs shouldn't have to put up with the sort of "crap" that Angela Rayner experienced after "misogynistic" 'Basic Instinct' claims were made about the deputy Labour leader, the Armed Forces minister has said.

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James Heappey told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast "this sort of misogyny should just have no place in how their work is reported".

It comes after the speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle waded in on the row, describing the article as "offensive".

He is going to meet with the editor of the Mail on Sunday, who printed the widely-condemned reports.

Mr Heappey was asked by Nick whether this was "not an interference with the workings of a free press?"

"No because, I think if Lindsay had gone down a route of threatening the access of that journalist to the House of Commons that would be a mistake, but he hasn't," Mr Heappey said.

"I understand that he made the point that he jealously guards freedom of speech and the right to a free press, but I do think that as the speaker of the House of Commons he is responsible to all 650 members.

"And a lot of female, in fact all female colleagues that I've spoken to since Sunday, have reflected to me that what was said about Ange [Angela Rayner] is reflective of what they have to deal with day in, day out."

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

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

He added: "I think that it's a good thing for the speaker to be doing and I think it's important that the Prime Minister and me, and everybody else, men, stand up for the fact that our female colleagues shouldn't have to put up with this sort of crap."

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".

The Prime Minister has 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.

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

Read more: Rachel Reeves claims Tory MP said she 'shouldn't be in Cabinet' if she was pregnant

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.

Ms Rayner has since thanked the Prime Minister for standing up for her.

She accused Tory MPs of spreading "desperate, perverted smears" about her and lashed out at the "lies".

She 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."

Read more: 'Utter disgrace': David Lammy's fury at mystery Tory MP who made Rayner 'legs' claim

Read more: Harman says 'misogyny is alive and well and stalking Commons' after 'sordid' Rayner story

She previously 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.