Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has continued to defend her comments labelling senior Tories as “scum” during her speech on the opening day of the party’s conference in Brighton.
Ms Rayner tore into “Tory sleaze” and tax-dodging firms as she outlined plans to boost workers’ rights.
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What did Angela Rayner say?
Ms Rayner used her speech at the party conference to target Boris Johnson’s government, vowing to “stamp out the Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics and corrupted our democracy”.
The deputy leader told Labour activists that the government was “taking £1,400 out of the pockets of a nurse while over £2 billion of taxpayers’ money has been dished out to Tory donors and mates of ministers”.
The Daily Mirror reported that at the event in Brighton on Saturday (25 September) night, Ms Rayner said: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile… banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum.”
She went on to accuse ministers of using the public purse “as a personal cashpoint”, adding that Labour would stamp out the “dodgy deals”.
Within the first 100 days of Labour government, the party said it would legislate to launch sector-wide fair pay agreements, beginning with social care, as part of efforts to introduce a “fundamental change” to the UK economy.
She said: “There’s only one rule with this Cabinet and that is that there’s one rule for them and one rule for all of us.
“We’ll stop the dodgy deals handing public money to ministers’ mates. It’s bad news for my pub landlord, but good news for the public”.
“And let me tell you this – as your minister for procurement, I won’t sign off a single penny that goes to a company that exploits its workers or doesn’t pay its taxes.
“We will stamp out the Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics and corrupted our democracy. The racket is over. Their time is up.”
The Ashton-under-Lyne MP said her attack on senior Tories was made in the “street language” of her northern working class roots.
Refusal to apologise
Ms Rayner has continued to stoke the row over her “scum” comments, despite colleagues including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer distancing themselves from her remarks.
On Monday (27 September), the MP challenged Mr Johnson to sit down with her and apologise for his own “racist, homophobic and sexist” comments before she says sorry for her verbal attack on Conservatives.
She tweeted that people “seem to be far more concerned with my choice of language” than the Prime Minister’s own “racist, homophobic and sexist” comments.
The MP added: “I’m very happy to sit down with Boris. If he withdraws his comments and apologises, I’ll be very happy to apologise to him.”.
Ms Rayner made reference to the Prime Minister’s history of outspoken remarks during her conference speech at the weekend, which includes comparing Muslim women who wear burkas to “letter boxes” and describing gay men as “tank-topped bum boys”.
She said her attack on the Tories, made in a “post-watershed” reception, was an attempt to get across the “anger and frustration” felt about Mr Johnson and the Cabinet.
She told Sky News: “Anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds to their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would speak to his deputy about the remarks, but it was a matter for her whether she apologised.
Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, he said: “Angela and I take different approaches and that’s not language that I would use.”
Her outburst has outraged members of the government, with one minister accusing her of “talking crap”.
Conservative chairman Oliver Dowden said: “At a time when the country is trying to pull together to recover from Covid, the last thing we need is the deputy leader of the Labour Party calling people ‘scum’ and yelling insults.
“We need to make politics better, not drag it into the gutter. Let’s see if we get an apology.”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said voters would see a Tory Party which has had two female prime ministers and the “most diverse government” and “they’ll know she’s talking crap”.
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