Angela Rayner has refused to apologise for her attack on the “scum” in the Tory government.
Labour’s Deputy Labour leader she would only apologise for her tirade if Prime Minister Boris Johnson said sorry for his past comments “that are homophobic, that are racist, that are misogynistic”.
Rayner’s comments to activists at a party reception on Saturday evening threatened to dominate the first full day of the Labour conference in Brighton as Keir Starmer distanced himself from the remarks.
The deputy Labour leader gave Boris Johnson’s party both barrels in a late-night fringe at the Labour Party conference.
She told party members: “I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and I bet you lot are too. We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, mysoginistic, absolute pile …of banana republic…Etonian…piece of scum…and I held back a little…that I have ever seen in my life”
She said the remarks were made “post-watershed” at an event for Labour activists and stressed that it was levelled at senior ministers rather than Tory voters.
She said: “Anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds to their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy.”
She told Sky News: “I am not saying that anyone who voted for the Conservatives are racist, scummy and homophobic… I’m saying the Prime Minister has said those things and acted in that way.
“If the Prime Minister wants to apologise and remove himself from those comments he’s made that are homophobic, racist and misogynistic then I will apologise for calling him scummy.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer refused three times to say if Rayner should apologise, saying “that’s a matter for Angela”.
He told the BBC: “I take different approaches and that is not language I would use.”
But he added ominously: “I’ll talk to Angela about it later on.”
The SNP’s Ian Blackford pounced quickly, saying the Labour conference had been derailed by division.
He tweeted: “ My goodness on Marr Keir Starmer distances himself from his deputy. With a cost of living crisis Labour have made this conference all about their differences. Massive fail.”
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