Angela Rayner is a threat to Starmer says Peter Cardwell
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Labour’s deputy leader ignited a firestorm at the weekend after she was reported to have called the Tories “scum”. The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne made the comment at a Labour conference fringe event on Saturday. However, it is not the first time Ms Rayner has referred to the Tories in such a manner. She also used the word “scum” last year during a fiery debate about the pandemic in the House of Commons.
A heated debate in October saw the Labour deputy leader hurl the insult at Conservative MP Chris Clarkson.
Mr Clarkson, the MP for Heywood and Middleton, was interrupted by Ms Rayner during his speech about economic support for those affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.
The Labour politician was sternly reprimanded at the time by Deputy Speaker, Eleanor Laing.
She said: “From the frontbench we will not have remarks like that, not under any circumstances, no matter how heartfelt it might be, not at all.”
Mr Clarkson then wrote to Ms Rayner to demand an apology for her comments and asked her to retract them.
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In a statement she said: “I apologise for the language that I used in a heated debate in Parliament earlier.”
However, Ms Rayner’s “scum” remark also affected other Tory MPs besides Mr Clarkson, according to unearthed comments by the party’s co-chairwoman.
Amanda Milling said the fallout from the “scum” comment had resulted in the “widespread abuse” of Conservative MPs.
She made the claim in a letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, signed by more than 100 Tory MPs.
They said “Tory scum” had trended on Twitter and alleged “widespread abuse towards members of our parliamentary party”.
She said members had even received abusive phone calls and had their offices targeted following the row.
The letter read: “We respectfully ask you to take action, reaffirming your commitment to working constructively.”
It called on the Labour leader to ask “Labour MPs and party members to act appropriately at all times”.
It added that action must be taken “against those who perpetrate this unacceptable abuse online and offline” and demanded a public apology from Ms Rayner.
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Ms Rayner’s latest comments at Labour conference on Saturday have drawn huge backlash, including from within her own party.
The Mirror’s Whitehall correspondent Mikey Smith quoted Labour’s Deputy Leader on Twitter.
During a speech she is reported to have said: “I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and I bet youse lot are too.
“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile …of banana republic…Etonian…piece of scum…and I held back a little…that I have ever seen in my life.”
Ms Rayner has refused to apologise over the comments and has stood by allegations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “racist, homophobic and sexist”.
On Monday, she addressed the furore in a tweet, to which she attached headlines in which Mr Johnson had refused to apologise for his own past controversial comments.
She said: “People seem to be far more concerned with my choice of language than the fact that Boris Johnson has made comments that are racist, homophobic and sexist.
“I’m very happy to sit down with Boris. If he withdraws his comments and apologises, I’ll be very happy to apologise to him.”
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