Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that the whole culture of Parliament must change after the treatment of Labor Party Vice-Chairwoman Angela Rayner, saying: “It’s sexist, it’s misogynistic.”
The Labor leader’s comments came after MPs from across the political spectrum condemned claims made about Ms Rayner by an unnamed Conservative politician in the Messenger on Sunday.
The newspaper had quoted an unnamed MP as saying the party’s deputy leader crossed and uncrossed her legs in the House of Commons to distract Johnson during questions from the prime minister.
Addressing the report, Sir Keir told ITV’s This Morning: “This is sexism and misogyny. She was really upset that all her political trappings had been thrown out by this ridiculous and offensive story.
“She shouldn’t have to put up with it, but not all women in politics should have to put up with it. Almost every woman in politics has had an element of it in one form or another.”
He said that “it was up to the Conservative Party to decide what steps they could take”, but stressed: “In fact, I think it is a question of culture and therefore upsetting one or two individuals is not enough.”
“We have to change the culture. The culture in Parliament is sexist, misogynistic and we have to change it.
“That’s what Angela told me. She used this expression, she said, “she triggered something in me about the way women in politics are perceived.”
The Labor leader added: “The culture of the whole place needs to change. We all have to participate in it. The first thing we need to do is obviously call it what it is.
“I have to see it within my own party wherever we see it. We will absolutely be there with zero tolerance. There should be no political division between the parties on this.
In response to the story, Boris Johnson said: “While I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost every issue of politics, I respect her as an MP and deplore the misogyny directed against her anonymously today.”
The Prime Minister was then informed by the The telegraph of the day. she sent a message to the Labor MP insisting that the ‘misogynistic’ claims made about her were ‘not on her behalf’.
On Monday, Culture Minister Chris Philp said that if the Conservative MP responsible for the misogynistic comments about Ms Rayner was identified, he would face “serious consequences”.
“I think if someone with views like those that have been expressed, which are just outrageous and misogynistic, are identified, then I would expect serious consequences,” he said. BBC Radio 4 today Program.
“I hope that efforts will be made to identify who is responsible for these views. But reporters are fiercely protective of their sources, and I doubt Glen Owen [Mail on Sunday political editor] voluntarily provide this information.
“I think there is active and ongoing work to ensure that anyone with offensive views, including the misogyny that we saw demonstrated over the weekend, is reported and action is taken.”