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Keir Starmer Calls For Change To "Sexist, Misogynist" Westminster Culture

3 min read

Keir Starmer has described Parliament as having a "sexist" culture that must be changed.

The Labour leader's intervention comes in response to an article published in the Mail on Sunday, in which Tory MPs describe Angela Rayner crossing her legs in the Commons as a tactical “ploy” to distract Boris Johnson while he speaks at the dispatch box during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The briefing to the Mail on Sunday has drawn widespread criticism from MPs across the Commons, as well as staff working in parliament. 

Speaking on ITV's This Morning programme on Monday, Starmer labelled the piece as "rank sexism" and "rank misogyny".

The Labour leader also described the article as being indicitve of a wider culture in parliament where female MPs and staff are treated as inferior. 

“The culture in Parliament, it is sexist, it is misogynist and we need to change it because for politicians like Angela Rayner, they are are absolutely entitled to make their political arguments in the same way as everybody else,” Starmer said.

“I think the culture of the whole place has to change and we all have to play a part in that,” he added. 

The Mail on Sunday article comes as The Sunday Times last week reported that three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers are allegedly being investigated by parliament’s independent grievances panel over sexual misconduct claims. 

A further 51 MPs are also being investigated over sexual misconduct claims. 

In a statement responding to the Mail on Sunday article, Rayner accused “Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders” of resorting to spreading “desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin”. 

“They know exactly what they are doing; the lies they are telling,” the deputy Labour leader said. 

“But it is the Prime Minister who is dragging the Conservative Party into the sewer,” she added. 

Rayner labelled “the anonymous Tory MPs doing [Johnson’s] bidding” as “complicit” in shaping a negative reputation for the Conservative party. 

She also accused the Prime Minister “and his cheerleaders” of having “a big problem with women in public life”. 

On Monday morning Tech and Digital Economy Minister Chris Philp said he felt “appalled” by the unfounded sexist accusations from MPs in his party against Rayner.

“I was appalled that that sentiment was being expressed,” Philp said.

“It’s offensive, it’s misogynistic and the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have been absolutely right to roundly condemn that sentiment and to offer support to Angela Rayner on this issue,” he added.

Also speaking on Sky News on Monday morning, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves described the Mail on Sunday article as having the potential to deter "good people" from "putting themselves forward for parliament".

"This sort of rubbish that Angela has been subjected to, but many others as well, frankly puts off good people from putting themselves forward for parliament," Reeves said.

"And we don't want that."  


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