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Angela Rayner Has Apologised For Calling A Tory MP "Scum" During A Heated Debate On Local Lockdowns

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner was accused of calling the Tory MP Chris Clarkson 'scum' during the Commons debate (Parliamentlive.TV)

4 min read

Angela Rayner has been forced to apologise after she called a Conservative MP "scum" during a debate on financial support for regions facing local lockdowns.

Tory MPs defeated a Labour bid to force ministers to publish a "clear and fair national criteria" for providing financial support for areas in lockdown after a rancorous debate which culminated in deputy leader of the opposition Angela Rayner branding a Tory MP as "scum".

The debate came after negotiations between Greater Manchester leaders and Downing Street collapsed without an economic deal in place to help those businesses affected by the area being placed in the highest set of coronavirus restrictions from Friday.

The region’s metro mayor Andy Burnham responded by calling for Parliament to decide on what was a fair settlement in the future as more sections of England are moved into Tier 3 to deal with spiralling infection rates.

Labour used an opposition day debate to call on the government to publish their formula for calculating support, after the prime minister had said Greater Manchester could not get proportionately more funding than Liverpool and Lancashire, which are already in the “very high”category of measures.

Ms Rayner, who revealed from the despatch box her aunt died last week from Covid-19, said: "So I speak today not just as a member of this House, nor as a Mancunian, but as someone who, like many others across our city and our country, who in the last few weeks has lost loved ones to this terrible virus.

"We were offered £8 per head or, to put it another way, 30 seconds work for a consultant working on the collapsed Test and Trace system.

"Let me say this: £8 per person is an insult and now they are attempting to play us off against each other across GM.

"Well let me tell the Prime Minister, our mayor stood up for Greater Manchester but he spoke for Great Britain.”

But a raft of Tories used the debate to criticise Mr Burnham, with Rother Valley MP Alex Stafford calling him a “disgrace” who was “playing fast and loose with this virus”.

He said the people of Greater Manchester had been “sold out by their so-called political leadership”, while Sarah Dines accused him of “petulant screaming”.

Chris Clarkson, the MP for Heywood and Middleton in Rochdale, said: “We've been very badly let down, Andy Burnham inserted itself into this process, at every step of the way he has promoted himself as the leader of Greater Manchester and purported to speak for us all.”

He added: “I’m a pragmatist, I just wanted the support package, I didn't care who got credit for it - unfortunately, the mayor did. 

“That's why after a demand is £65million was made at the negotiating table, and the majority and the majority of that sum was offered - 92% - Andy got up and walked away from the table, all because he wanted to brag about having got more money than Merseyside or Lancashire. 

“That dogma and demagoguery will cost people dearly.”

Continuing his attack he criticised the Labour frontbench, and after being heckled by Ms Rayner stopped his speech to ask: “Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me ‘scum’?”

It prompted an angry row involving the deputy speaker Eleanor Laing, and after the vote Conservative Katherine Fletcher raised a point of order accusing Ms Rayner of having "shamed Manchester”.

"Is it in order for a senior member of the Labour front bench opposite to call repeatedly out 'scum' when my colleague was talking and then to fail to retract it or apologise?”, she asked.

"Today she has shamed Manchester, shamed this House and she should apologise.”

In a letter to the Labour MP, Mr Clarkson called on her to "retract and apologise" for the comments.

He tweeted: "As elected representatives I believe we have a duty to lead by example - this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and achieves nothing."

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Ms Rayner said: "I apologise for the language that I used in a heated debate in Parliament earlier.”

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