Angela Rayner has defended comments she reportedly made about the current Conservative government at the Labour Party conference.
During the annual event, held in Brighton from 25-29 September, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party spoke to a group of activists.
According to the Daily Mirror, she said: “I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and I bet you lot are too.
“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile… banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum…and I held back a little…that I have ever seen in my life.”
Rayner’s comments were met with a mixed response, with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn telling LBC “she is absolutely right to attack this government for the way it is treating people in our society.”
“I don’t think she has anything to apologise for,” the Islington North MP continued. “She speaks from the heart.”
Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden believes Rayner’s “message” is “loud and clear”.
He said: “Voters have heard the message loud and clear from Labour conference: if they support Conservative values or this government they are ‘scum’.
“Instead of looking down our noses at voters and throwing around playground insults, we are focused on bringing people together and delivering for them.”
Rayner, who has been the Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne since 2015, has since doubled down on her comments following the ongoing backlash.
“People seem to be far more concerned with my choice of language than the fact that @BorisJohnson has made comments that are racist, homophobic and sexist,” she wrote on Twitter alongside headlines about derogatory comments the Prime Minister has made in the past.
“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.”
Although the exact comments Rayner is referring to are not clear, Boris Johnson previously called gay men “tank-topped bumboys” and Black people “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.
People seem to be far more concerned with my choice of language than the fact that @BorisJohnson has made comments that are racist, homophobic and sexist.
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. pic.twitter.com/q1jmc91dGS
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) September 27, 2021
In an interview with Sky News on 26 September a day earlier, Rayner said her words express the “anger and frustration that people feel when you have a prime minister, who has said things and not apologised that are racist, that are misogynistic, that are homophobic, that has given billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to their mates and literally wasted that money”.
She continued: “My passion was about look, we can’t sit on the sidelines here, we have to get organised.
“I was speaking to a group of activists to say you’ve got to get that fire in your belly.”
Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC that whether or not Rayner should apologise for her comments is something only she can decide.
He added: “Angela and I take a different approach and that is not the language I would have used.”