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Angela Rayner says ‘sexist, classist’ newspaper article implied she was ‘thick’ – UK politics live | Politics

Angela Rayner says ‘sexist, classist’ newspaper article implied she was ‘thick’

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, is being interviewed on ITV’s Lorraine.

Rayner says she asked the Mail on Sunday not to run the story it did at the weekend. When she was told about it, she was with her children. She did not want to be portrayed like that.

She was “crestfallen” that someone had said that to a paper, and they reported that.

But she was “heartened” by the response, and the overwhelming condemnation the story attracted.

The story was not just sexist. It was “steeped in classism” too, she says. She says it implied that she was thick. And the reference to her having a child aged 16 implied she was promiscuous, she says.

She says the story was offensive. “I think I hold my own against Boris Johnson in the Commons chamber,” she says.

Rayner says she was particularly worried about impact of Mail on Sunday article on her children

Here are the main points from Angela Rayner’s interview with ITV’s Lorraine Kelly.

  • Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said the Mail on Sunday article published about her at the weekend was not just sexist, but classist too. She said:

It wasn’t just about me as a woman, saying that I was using the fact I’m a woman against the prime minister – which I think is quite condescending to the prime minister as well, it shows you watch his MPs think about his behaviour – but it was also about steeped in classism as well, and about where it come from, and how I grew up, and the fact that I must be thick and must be stupid because I went to a comprehensive school.

And they talk about my background, because I had a child when I was young, as if to say I was promiscuous – that was the insinuation – which I felt was quite offensive for people from my background.

  • She said that when she heard the article was going to be published, she was particularly worried about the impact on her children. She said:

When I heard of the story that was coming out, and we rebutted it instantly, [saying] ‘this is disgusting, it’s completely untrue, please don’t run a story like that’. Because I’ve got teenage sons, and I was with my teenage sons, and I felt really sad again that my weekend … I was trying to prepare my children for seeing things online, they don’t want to see them often portrayed that way. I felt really down about that.

  • She said she felt she felt she can “hold my own” against Boris Johnson, “more so when we’re in the debating chamber”.
  • She said she was “owerwhelmed” by how much support she had had since the article was published, from people condemning its sexism.
  • She said she had worn a trouser suit for the Lorraine interview because she did not want to be judged by what she wore. She said the Mail on Sunday article had been illustrated with a picture of her from a previous appearance on the show, wearing a skirt. It was a John Lewis tailored dress, she said, which she thought was “quite posh”. She said:

I wanted to be defiant as well, because I don’t think that women should be told how to dress – but I didn’t want to distract from the fact that, actually, it’s not about my legs.

I didn’t want people at home thinking ‘Let’s have a look to see what her legs are like and how short her skirt is or not’.

Because I feel like I’m being judged for what I wear, rather than what I’m saying to you and how I come across.

Angela Rayner on ITV’s Lorraine
Angela Rayner on ITV’s Lorraine Photograph: ITV

Angela Rayner says ‘sexist, classist’ newspaper article implied she was ‘thick’

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, is being interviewed on ITV’s Lorraine.

Rayner says she asked the Mail on Sunday not to run the story it did at the weekend. When she was told about it, she was with her children. She did not want to be portrayed like that.

She was “crestfallen” that someone had said that to a paper, and they reported that.

But she was “heartened” by the response, and the overwhelming condemnation the story attracted.

The story was not just sexist. It was “steeped in classism” too, she says. She says it implied that she was thick. And the reference to her having a child aged 16 implied she was promiscuous, she says.

She says the story was offensive. “I think I hold my own against Boris Johnson in the Commons chamber,” she says.

Good morning. Boris Johnson is chairing cabinet this morning, and normally we are only told what’s on the agenda once its over. But ahead of today’s meeting No 10 aissued a lengthy press release saying that Johnson would order his minister to focus on the cost of living crisis.

Downing Street press releases are often rather dull, but this one was anything but. Here is an extract.

[Johnson] will call on his cabinet colleagues and departments to double down on exploring innovative ways to ease pressures on household finances, promoting the support that is available but not widely taken up, and helping people into high-quality, well-paid jobs across the UK.

People around the country are already benefiting from new financial support this month, including immediate help with energy bills through the £150 council tax rebate, an uplift to incomes of the lowest paid through the National Living Wage, and the biggest cut, in cash terms, on fuel duty. £22 billion worth of support is being made available this year.

The prime minister will urge ministers to continue working at pace to ease living costs without solely relying on new government spend. High levels of public debt following the unprecedented support provided during the pandemic, together with rising inflation and interest rates, mean we must maintain control of the public finances rather than burden future generations with higher debt.

The press release goes on to mention three things ministers are doing to help people manage with the cost of living crisis (see below), but they are all minimal measures and the reference to asking ministers to “double down on exploring innovative” solutions implies that No 10 is desperate for some better ideas. That might not inspire great confidence. Many of us don’t have a solution to the cost of living crisis, but Johnson is prime minister, and he’s running a government, not a thinktank.

No 10 cites three “non-fiscal” measures it is already taking to help people.

1) Encouraging people to check they are claiming all the benefits for which they are eligible. “For example, it is estimated that around 1.3 million families could be taking up government support through tax free childcare, which offers up to £2,000 towards childcare costs a year, and there are still an estimated 850,000 eligible households who are not claiming pension credit, which could be worth over £3,300 a year for pensioners,” it says.

2) Freezing energy bill deductions from universal credit. This move will give claimants more time to discuss with energy companies how they pay higher bills, the government says.

3) Urging private companies to “play their part”. Ministers “won’t hesitate to crack down on unacceptable behaviour taking place within industry, where they are unfairly pushing up bills further for hard-working people”, No 10 says.

As my colleague Jessica Elgot writes in her overnight story, today’s initiative is a tacit admission that Rishi Sunak’s spring statement failed to satisfactorily address the cost of living crisis.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

10am: Sir Patrick Vallance, the govenrment’s chief scientific adviser, gives evidence to a Lords committee on climate change.

10.45am: Mark Spencer, leader of the Commons, and Michael Ellis, the Cabinet Office minister, give evidence to the Commons standards committee on reform of the MPs’ code of conduct.

11am: A National Farmers Union official and other experts give evidence to the Commons international trade committee about the trade deal with Australia.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

Afternoon: Peers debate Commons amendments to the nationality and borders bill. In an intense bout of “ping pong” (the process where bills shuttle between the Commons and the Lords until outstanding disagreements can be resolved), they will also consider Commons amendments to the building safety bill, the health and care bill and the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.

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