Douglas Ross: Sexist claims about Angela Rayner are cowardly and disgusting

The Scottish Conservative leader said he expected the anonymous Tories behind the claims to face punishment if their identities were ever revealed.

Rebecca McCurdy
Tuesday 26 April 2022 15:58
Angela Rayner has received support from across the political divide following the Mail on Sunday article (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Angela Rayner has received support from across the political divide following the Mail on Sunday article (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Douglas Ross has condemned the “disgusting” claims made by “cowardly” Tories which accused Angela Rayner of trying to distract the Prime Minister by crossing and uncrossing her legs.

The Scottish Conservative leader said he expected those behind the story would face punishment if their identity was ever revealed.

It comes after the Mail on Sunday published an article based on comments from anonymous Conservatives at Westminster

Ms Rayner herself has insisted the story is “disgusting” and “completely untrue”, but said she was “heartened” by the public’s overwhelming rejection of the article – which compared the Labour deputy leader to Sharon Stone’s character in the move Basic Instinct, saying she crossed and uncrossed her legs to distract Boris Johnson during Prime Ministers’ Questions.

Douglas Ross has labelled the comments made by one anonymous Tory MP as ‘disgusting’ and ‘cowardly’ (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA)

A Tory MP was quoted in the article as saying Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but has other skills which he lacks”.

And Mr Ross, who is both an MP and MSP, said the comments were “completely unacceptable” and “disgusting”.

He said: “They have allegedly come from a Conservative MP who is not even brave enough to put their name to it. They should be ashamed of language like that.

“Angela Rayner is a political opponent of mine who I disagree with on many policy issues but I have never questioned her integrity, her passion, her commitment and I just think this is the worst of politics.

“It’s the type of thing that can put people off, particularly women.

To say something anonymously like that just shows this is a cowardly man who is making a cheap jibe which has huge implications

Douglas Ross

“We’ve seen here in Scotland and across the UK, the abuse women in politics get is at a level that can and should never be tolerated.”

And it may deter women from “ordinary” backgrounds from entering politics, he said.

In the article, Ms Rayner’s background is described as “a socialist grandmother who left school at 16 while pregnant and with no qualifications before becoming a care worker”.

When asked by PA news agency if he thought the Tory MP should be punished, he said: “To say something anonymously like that just shows this is a cowardly man who is making a cheap jibe which has huge implications – and not just on Angela who, I think, has responded brilliantly, as I would expect a strong woman like her to respond.”

“If this person would ever come forward and accept they’d done wrong I’d expect strong punishment from whips and they would receive it from other members of the Conservative Party.”

Mr Ross said the beliefs held by the anonymous Tory MP have caused “anger and fury” among fellow MPs.

Ms Rayner has hit out at the comments and said they were “misogynistic” and “classist”.

Boris Johnson has also defended the opposition MP and said the anonymous MP would be punished if their identity ever came to light.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also voiced his disgust at the story, saying that “heads should roll” as a result of the article.

“It’s disgusting that someone thought of the story, disgusting that someone even wrote the story, disgusting that an editor thought it was okay to publish the story and disgusting that ever made it into print,” he told the PA news agency at the STUC Congress in Aberdeen.

“It demonstrates sexism, someone – maybe more than one person’s – perverted mind and if we’ve got a Prime Minister who’s distracted by a woman being in the room, he’s clearly not fit to be an MP, never mind fit to be the highest holder of office in our country.”

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