Deputy Labour leader also reportedly described Conservatives as ‘homophobic, racist and misogynistic’Angela Rayner declines to apologise after describing Tories as ‘bunch of scum’
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has declined to apologise for calling the Tories “scum” in a speech to activists.
Ms Rayner made the remarks on Saturday night during a fringe event at the Labour conference in Brighton.
Asked by Sky’s Trevor Phillips whether she wanted to apologise to the 14,000 Conservative voters in her constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne, Ms Rayner insisted she was referring to “members of the Cabinet” and past comments made by Boris Johnson.
“I am not saying that anyone who voted for the Conservatives are racist, scummy and homophobic,” she said. “The Prime Minister said those things and acted in that way.
“If the Prime Minister wants to remove himself from [his] comments, which are racist, misoynistic, and homophobic, I’m quite happy to apologise for calling him scum.”
Challenged on the remarks made by his deputy, Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC: “I wouldn’t have used those words and I will talk to Angela later on.”
However he insisted that whether Ms Rayner should apologise – as some senior Tories have urged – was “a matter for Angela”.
Government minister Amanda Milling described the Labour MP’s remarks as “shocking” and said that she should issue an apology.
Foreign Office minister Ms Milling said: “Angela Rayner must apologise for these comments.”
She said Ms Rayner had been former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “henchman when Labour became embroiled in anti-Semitism” and “she failed to act”.
“Rather than throwing around false accusations the Conservatives are focused on the people’s priorities,” Ms Milling said.
Appearing on Sky News on Sunday morning, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said Ms Rayner’s “appalling” comments “have no place in public life”.
Fellow Foreign Office minister James Cleverly accused Ms Rayner of “talking crap”.
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.”
John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, said Angela “may well drop herself in it” but was “expressing human emotions” in her remarks.
“When you get angry about something, sometimes the language you use might be over-the-top,” he told The Trevor Philips Show.