Angela Rayner has caused controversy at the Labour Party Conference by reportedly calling Boris Johnson “scum”.
Speaking at a conference event on Saturday night, the deputy Labour leader was reported to make the comments about Tory politicians and in doing so has caused a stir:
Today, Rayner has said she will not retract her comments and, speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News, said “scum” was her “street language” for saying it was “appalling” for people to behave in the way she said the prime minister had behaved.
“It’s a phrase you would hear very often in northern working class towns. We’d even say it jovially to other people – we say it’s a scummy thing to do.”
Speaking to the BBC, she added: “I think Boris Johnson is a racist, homophobic misogynist.
“I think he needs to apologise for comments he has made in the past.”
Reacting to her words, some thought her comments were acceptable and that she shouldn’t be reprimanded. Commentators pointed out that her critics often defend free speech and said that Boris Johnson’s infamous comments about Muslim women were worse:
Others, however, thought she should not have used that language and pointed out she previously called on MPs to change their tone in parliament:
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly also accused Ms Rayner of “talking crap”, according to GB News.
He said: “I’m sure this went down well in the room but when voters look at the party that has had both female PMs, with half of the great offices of state filled by women, half by BAME, most diverse government, more gay ministers than Labour ever had etc, they’ll know she’s talking crap.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “Angela and I take a different approach and that is not the language I would have used.”
Pressed on whether he would asking her to apologise, he said that was a matter for her but added: “I will talk to her later.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy also distanced herself from Ms Rayner’s comments.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House: “Angela feels very strongly about what this government is doing, I do as well but that’s not the way that I would choose to articulate my anger.
“The way that I think we best respond to this actually is to prove to the people of this country that we’re an alternative not just an opposition to the government.”