The Labour Party’s Angela Rayner has sparked a major row after calling Boris Johnson and his party ‘vile’ and ‘scum’ in an address to activists
Jeremy Corbyn has said Angela Rayner does not need to apologise for branding the Tories “scum” as she was “saying what needs to be said”.
The former Labour leader waded into the row over Ms Rayner’s late-night comments to activists, which have triggered a wave of criticism.
He said Ms Rayner, who served in his Shadow Cabinet, was “absolutely right to attack” the Government over the way it is treating people.
But her comments have threatened to overshadow the start of Labour’s annual conference in Brighton.
Speaking at a reception for Labour members in the North West of England on Sunday night, she said: “I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines and I bet youse lot are as well.
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile [inaudible] Banana Republic, vile, nasty, Etonian [inaudible] piece of scum.”
She told the audience that she had “held back a little”.
Tory MPs immediately seized on her words and demanded Ms Rayner apologise.
But Ms Rayner doubled down, telling 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.”
Mr Corbyn said she was right to go for the Government – rather than focusing on rule changes, in a jibe at his successor Keir Starmer.
He told LBC: “Angela uses her own words, she’s absolutely right to attack this government for the way it’s treating people in our society.
“Britain now has more food banks and branches of McDonald’s, more children living in poverty, greater levels of inequality than ever before in my lifetime, and Angela’s right to go after Tories.
“I wish this whole conference was spending it’s whole time going after the Tories rather than rule changes. I don’t think she has anything to apologise for. She speaks from the heart, she’s saying it like it needs to be said.”
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
On Sunday, Mr Starmer repeatedly refused to say if Ms Rayner should apologise.
He told the BBC: “I take different approaches and that is not language I would use.”
But he added: “I’ll talk to Angela about it later on
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she would not have called Boris Johnson’s Government “scum” – but she claimed lots of people shared the sentiment.
“I understand why Angela Rayner’s angry, we are all angry with what the Government are doing at our conference here in Brighton this week,” Ms Reeves told Times Radio.
“I wouldn’t use that language but I think that sentiment is shared by many people who are struggling at the moment, queuing for petrol, who are worried about cuts to Universal Credit next month and worried about increases in taxes next year.”
The comments have triggered mutterings among Labour MPs at conference.
One shadow minister told the Mirror: “I wouldn’t have said it. It just makes us look daft.”