Dominic Raab's team explains wink after Deputy PM accused of 'sexism' toward Angela Rayner

Dominic Raab has been criticised online for a wink in the Commons which appeared to be directed at Angela Rayner but the DPM's team says it was aimed at Ian Murray. Credit:

Sources close to Dominic Raab have attempted to explain his controversial wink at PMQs, which appeared to be directed at Angela Rayner, after the deputy prime minister was accused of sexism by Twitter users.

The two deputies were going head to head at PMQs in Boris Johnson's absence, with the prime minister out of the country for a Nato summit.

Social media was awash with accusations of misogyny after Twitter users posted footage of the wink, but his team says he was actually winking at shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray.

A source claimed that off camera, Mr Murray made a comment inaudible to those watching at home, in which he "muttered it would be 'no bad thing' if Angela Rayner stood for leader of the Labour Party".

Mr Raab's wink was allegedly in response to Mr Murray's remark, however some social media users have questioned this explanation.

One Twitter account remarked to say: "The comment about her running for leader wasn't in that clip when he winked so can't have been in response to it."

While Mr Murray was not visible to TV viewers of PMQs, he was reprimanded by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle for being too loud in the chamber.

The wink followed an exchange in which Mr Raab attacked his opposite number for dodging a question on last week's rail strikes, after Ms Rayner apparently "flip-flopped" in her position on the RMT union's industrial action.

He said: "She was asked by the BBC, straight question, she's usually a straight-shooting politician, 'do you like the RMT?' she said 'I'm going to have to go now, I've got a train to catch'."

The DPM was responding to an attack from Ms Rayner over his previous stance on food banks.

She quoted a past remark, in which he said food bank users "simply have a cash flow problem", adding: "He doesn't. He spent over a million pound in nine months on private jets, it shows how out of touch this government is.

"At this rate, by 2030 a million more people will be using food banks. How many more working people will be pushed into poverty by his prime minister before he says enough is enough?"

Mr Raab hit back: "If the Labour Party, if she wants to help working people, they should be clear in standing up against these militant, reckless strikes."

Watch PMQs in full:

He added: "She talks about working people. Where was she when the comrades were on the picket line last Thursday? Where was she when the Labour frontbench were joining them rather than standing up for the public?

"She was at the Glyndebourne music festival sipping champagne, listening to opera. Champagne socialism is back in the Labour Party."

"When she was asked by the BBC, a straight question, she's normally a straight-shooting politician, 'do you like the RMT?' she said 'I'm going to have to go now, I've got a train to catch'," Mr Raab said. Laughter was heard throughout the chamber for a number of seconds, during which Mr Raab fired a wink in the direction of Labour's frontbench.

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Responding to a clip shared online which contained the entire exchange, one Twitter user said: "Sexism and classism all in one foul swoop."

Another labelled the wink "disgusting sexism" and someone else asked if Speaker Hoyle would "be having words and reminding MPs that such sexism is not allowed in the chamber".

Downing Street has insisted that Prime Minister Johnson wants "everybody" to enjoy arts and culture.

A No 10 spokesman said: "The prime minister is clear that everybody should be able to enjoy arts and culture, and other such things across the UK."