Angela Rayner attacks branded 'gutter journalism', as calls grow for 'real action' on misogyny

Political leaders in the North East have demanded “real action” to combat sexism, amid outrage over accusations about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.

Claims made by anonymous Tory MPs and reported in the Mail on Sunday suggested the Ashton-under-Lyne MP tries to distract Boris Johnson in the House of Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs.

The report has sparked widespread condemnation this week, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle even attempting to meet bosses from the newspaper to quiz them over the story.

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Jarrow MP Kate Osborne branded it “the worst gutter journalism” in the wake of the row.

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She added: “My solidarity is of course with Angela Rayner, and it's pleasing to see so many call out the [Mail on Sunday’s] behaviour.

“Let's hope that we now see similar attacks being called out whoever their aimed at, we have seen in the past attacks on Diane Abbott and other women MPs.

"They must all be challenged so we can beat the sexism, racism and snobbery in politics and society.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.

Rayner, who was elected Labour’s deputy leader in 2020, said on Tuesday that she was left “crestfallen” by the “completely untrue” claims about her.

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The article included a quote from one MP, saying the Labour deputy “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks”.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck said the row showed “misogyny exists not just in politics but for woman overall”.

She added: “This treatment isn’t specific to any political party and sadly many women who have and continue to be subjected to sustained, protracted and disgusting sexism are ignored when they make complaints.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.
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"Until there is a truly independent complaints process in all political parties this situation will never change.”

Kim McGuinness, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), has called on men to “take responsibility” for combating misogyny, but also conceded she was “not surprised” by the claims about Rayner.

McGuinness, who was described as a “Barbie doll” by one of her opponents shortly after her 2019 election, said: “People are saying in large numbers that it is not acceptable and that there is no place for it in our democracy and our society.

"But it has to translate into real action.”

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Emma Lewell-Buck MP
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.