Speaker summons Mail on Sunday editor over 'misogynistic' Angela Rayner article

Angela Rayner was the subject of what many say was a 'misogynistic' report in the Mail on Sunday. Credit: Parliament

The editor of the Mail on Sunday has been summoned for discussions with the Speaker of the House of Commons over an article which reported "misogynistic and offensive" claims about Angela Rayner.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he would be meeting David Dillon after his newspaper published an article quoting an anonymous Tory who accused Ms Rayner of crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions.

He said the comments were "offensive to women in Parliament and can only deter women who might be considering standing for election to the detriment of us all".

"That is why I have arranged a meeting with the chair of the press lobby, the editor of the Mail on Sunday to discuss the issue affecting our parliamentary community."

Prime Minister Johnson condemned the "sexist" comments and threatened the MP behind the "intolerable" comments with "the terrors of the earth" if he ever finds out who they are.

Speaking during a visit to Bury on Monday, Mr Johnson said he "immediately got in touch" with Ms Rayner after viewing the article, which he described as "the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe".

"If we ever find who is responsible for [the comments], I don't know what we will do, but they will be the terrors of the earth.

"It's totally intolerable, that kind of thing."

He said he would "of course" seek to find out which Tory MP made the comments but did not give a timescale for carrying any investigation.

The Mail on Sunday likened the claims in the article to a scene from the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct and said she was trying to put the PM “off his stride”.

The anonymous Tory MP is said to have told the paper: “She (Ms Rayner) knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.

“She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the (Commons) terrace.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer condemned the article as "rank sexism, rank misogyny", which he said is part of the culture which needs changing in Westminster.

"She was really disgusted that all of her political attributes were put aside for this ridiculous, offensive story," he remarked, adding that Ms Rayner "said 'it triggered something in me about the way women are seen in politics'."

Speaker Hoyle said he too would be speaking to Ms Rayner, after she called the story “desperate” and “perverted”.

The prime minister was among those to publicly condemn the claims on Twitter.

“As much as I disagree with (Ms) Rayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today,” he wrote.

Senior ministers followed suit in condemning the claims. While Treasury minister Simon Clarke retweeted Mr Johnson’s message, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries posted the same tweet as the PM.

On Sunday evening, the Tory chairman of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, Caroline Nokes, revealed she had written to the Commons speaker, to suggest the journalist who wrote the story be formally censured.

As deputy opposition leader, Angela Rayner sits opposite Boris Johnson in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions. Credit: House of Commons/PA

The senior Tory told ITV's Lorraine programme that she's been apprehensive about wearing skirts in Westminster for fear of facing similar attacks.

“It’s why I’ve come here in trousers, and that’s why you often find me in media appearances wearing trousers so that nobody gets that photo.

“I’ve been a victim of it myself - pictures of me that have effectively been taken up my skirt," she said.

Earlier on Sunday she wrote on Twitter that “too many female MPs (of all parties)” have been on the “receiving end of vile” claims like those aimed at Ms Rayner.

What you need to know - Listen to our news and analysis podcast

In a series of tweets, Ms Rayner lashed out at the “lies” being briefed about her.

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP said: “Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted 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.”

She said Mr Johnson and his backers “clearly have a big problem with women in public life” and that they “should be ashamed of themselves”.

“I won’t be letting their vile lies deter me. Their attempts to harass and intimidate me will fail,” Ms Rayner added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the sexism displayed by those briefing the Sunday paper was a “disgraceful new low from a party mired in scandal and chaos”.