Sunak ‘keen’ to meet Brianna’s family but no apology in sight for trans jibe

The murdered transgender teenager’s father has urged the Prime Minister to say sorry for the ‘degrading’ remark.

Sophie Wingate
Thursday 08 February 2024 09:22 GMT
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing calls to apologise over a transgender jibe (Victoria Jones/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing calls to apologise over a transgender jibe (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak is “very keen” to meet murdered teenager Brianna Ghey’s family, a Government minister has said, but there is no sign of the Prime Minister heeding her father’s call for an apology over a transgender joke.

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said Mr Sunak should say sorry for the “degrading” and “dehumanising” remark made during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Sunak had accused Sir Keir Starmer of having difficulty in “defining a woman” during an attack on Labour Party U-turns.

But with Esther Ghey, the mother of Brianna, who was transgender, visiting Parliament, his comment prompted fierce criticism from across the political spectrum.

Policing minister Chris Philp on Thursday defended the Prime Minister’s jibe, telling BBC Breakfast: “The Prime Minister made no reference at all to any individual trans people.

“It was Keir Starmer who introduced that. The Prime Minister was making a point about Labour’s very numerous flip-flops.”

Asked about Mr Spooner’s request for an apology, Mr Philp said he was “very sad” to hear his comments, but suggested people “should actually listen” to the exchange in the House of Commons.

Pressed on whether he was arguing that Brianna’s father had misunderstood Mr Sunak’s remark, Mr Philp said: “I have got every respect for, obviously, the views and feelings of a bereaved father.”

He said the Prime Minister would have more to say on the issue later.

Asked if that meant Mr Sunak would be apologising, the Home Office minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “No, I’m not saying that… he will be saying more about this later.”

Mr Philp said the Prime Minister “would be very happy” to meet Brianna’s family, and that Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan wanted to speak to Ms Ghey about online safety.

Ms Ghey has been invited to a meeting, though it has not yet been confirmed whether or when it will take place.

Other Government ministers have also played down Mr Sunak’s language, while Downing Street has insisted it was not transphobic but part of “totally legitimate” criticism of Labour.

Brianna’s mother had been in Westminster during PMQs with her local MP in Warrington, Charlotte Nichols, as she campaigns for mindfulness lessons to be taught in schools following the killing of her daughter.

Brianna was stabbed to death by teenagers Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe in a Cheshire park last February.

During their sentencing earlier this month, the judge said the “exceptionally brutal” murder had elements of both sadism on the part of Jenkinson and transphobic hate on the part of Ratcliffe.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in