Angela Rayner under fire for ‘calling a Conservative MP scum’ in Commons chamber

‘We will not have remarks like that, not under any circumstances – no matter how heartfelt it might be,’ deputy speaker says

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 21 October 2020 19:29
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner under fire for ‘calling a Tory MP scum’

Angela Rayner has been censured in the Commons chamber for apparently calling a Conservative MP “scum”.

Christopher Clarkson, her fellow Greater Manchester MP, reacted with fury to a remark from the deputy Labour leader, saying: “Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?”

Amid angry scenes – during a debate on the bitter row over the area being forced into tier 3 restrictions – the deputy speaker was forced to shout “Order!” over and over.

“We will not have remarks like that, not under any circumstances – no matter how heartfelt it might be. Not at all,” she told Ms Rayner.

Keir Starmer’s deputy did not deny making the remark – instead she accused Mr Clarkson of making misleading comments about a fellow Labour MP.

The clash came after Mr Clarkson tore into Andy Burnham, the Labour Greater Manchester mayor, for refusing to accept the government offer to move into the “very high” alert category.

Earlier, Ms Rayner had launched a firm defence of him, saying: “For hundreds of years Mancunians have been told to know our place but we’ve never listened ... we will not be told what our place is and we will not be bullied into taking it.

“If the government is prepared to wilfully inflict so much harm on its own people, in the middle of a pandemic, in one part of the country, then they will do it to people elsewhere as well.”

The clash was sparked when Mr Clarkson referred to accusations that Kate Green, another Greater Manchester MP, said coronavirus was “a good crisis that the Labour Party should exploit”.

“I know she speaks for a lot of her frontbench colleagues when she says that – you just need to see it in the support-U-turn-oppose approach that has characterised their hindsight-heavy behaviour,” the Heywood and Middleton MP said.

After being censured by Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker, Ms Rayner did not dispute using the word “scum”.

Instead, she accused Mr Clarkson of “saying things about the front bench which is inaccurate”, adding: “I'd ask them to withdraw it.”

Dehenna Davison,  the Tory MP for Bishop Auckland, was among those who hit out at Ms Rayner, tweeting: “Absolutely disgraceful behaviour from the Labour front bench. Rayner needs to apologise immediately. This is not what politics is about.”

The incident comes after Sir Keir slapped down his deputy after she demand the resignation of Matt Hancock, the health secretary.

Ms Rayner, asked whether he should quit, she replied: “Yeah, absolutely. I think he should hang his head in shame”, but her boss said he should “get on with the job”.

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