UK

Labour’s Angela Rayner refuses to apologise for calling Tories ‘homophobic scum’

Patrick Kelleher September 26, 2021
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Angela Rayner Labour transgender

Angela Rayner. (Ian Forsyth/Getty)

Labour’s Angela Rayner has refused to apologise for calling the Tories “homophobic scum” during an appearance at her party’s annual conference.

Rayner, who is deputy leader of the Labour Party, reportedly told the conference on Saturday night (25 September): “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile… banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum.”

She received a round of applause for her speech and went on to tell gathered Labour Party members that she had “held back a little”.

Her comments have been met with fury from members of the Conservative party, and some have called on Rayner to apologise for referring to Tories as “scum”.

However, Angela Rayner was adamant that she will not apologise for her remarks until Boris Johnson apologises for offensive comments he has made in the past about gay people and ethnic minorities.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday (26 September), Rayner said she was referring specifically to Boris Johnson and his team of ministers when she used the word “scum”.

“I think anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds for their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy,” Rayner said.

She went on to defend her use of the word “scum”, describing it as “street language” that would often be used in northern, working-class towns.

Rayner also insisted she wasn’t calling Tory voters “scum”, explaining: “I’m not saying anybody who voted Conservative are those things, I’m saying the prime minister has said those things and acted in that way.”

Angela Rayner will only apologise when Boris Johnson withdraws ‘homophobic’ remarks

She added: “If the prime minister wants to apologise and remove himself from those comments that he’s made that are homophobic, that are racist, that are misogynistic then I will apologise for calling him scummy.”

Rayner was presumably referring to controversial comments Johnson has made in the past about gay men and women. He famously called gay men “tank-topped bum boys”, and he once described Muslim women wearing burkas as “letter boxes”.

Speaking to BBC News at the Labour conference, Rayner promised to retract her comment that Johnson is “scum” – but only if he apologises for his past comments first.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was grilled on whether Rayner should apologise for her comments during an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning (26 September).

Starmer said it was “a matter for Angela”, adding: “I would not have used those words.”

Johnson has repeatedly been asked to apologise for calling gay men “tank-topped bum boys” and Muslim women “letter boxes” over the years – however, he has repeatedly backed away from offering a firm apology.

In 2019, Johnson was taken to task on his past anti-gay comments on BBC Question Time.

“I’ve written many millions of words in my lifetime as a journalist, and I’ve never intended, genuinely, to cause hurt or pain to anybody,” Johnson said. “That is my intention.”

He added: “If you go through all my articles with a fine tooth comb and take out individual phrases, there is no doubt you can find things that can be made to seem offensive.”

Johnson went on to address his “letter box” comments, saying: “I defend my right to speak out, and I do defend my right… if you actually read the piece, what I was really doing, was mounting a strong liberal defence of the right of women in this country to wear what they choose.”

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