Boris Johnson Defends Female Lawmaker After Paper's Slam

I 'deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today,' PM says of Angela Rayner
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2022 9:34 AM CDT
Paper's Slam Against Female Lawmaker Causes UK Ruckus
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, in a file photo.   (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

(Newser) – Boris Johnson is trying to distance himself from a new controversy in British politics, one revolving around a newspaper article condemned as misogynistic. Over the weekend, the Mail on Sunday quoted anonymous lawmakers from Johnson's Conservative Party who accused opposition lawmaker Angela Rayner of trying to distract Johnson in the House of Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs. The story likened it to the infamous scene in Basic Instinct. The article has triggered much condemnation, against the anonymous lawmakers quoted as well as the newspaper for printing it.

  • Johnson: "As much as I disagree with @AngelaRayner on almost every political issue I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today," Johnson tweeted. The BBC reports that the prime minister also texted her personally to reiterate the message.

  • Rayner: She accused "Boris Johnson's cheerleaders" of using "desperate, perverted smears" against her. "I stand accused of a 'ploy' to 'distract' the helpless PM—by being a woman, having legs and wearing clothes," she tweeted. "Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day—and I'm no different."
  • Ditto: Rachel Reeves, also in Rayner's Labour Party, said such sexism was "endemic," adding, per the AP: "I hope that some good can come out of this awful article ... and that we get some change because Angela and no other MP should have to put up with this sort of rubbish." The sentiment was echoed by male and female lawmakers of both parties, notes Insider, which rounds up reaction.
  • Context: The AP notes that Johnson and Rayner provide a contrast of backgrounds during debates. "Rayner, who comes from a working-class family in northern England and left school when she was 16, makes a sharp contrast to Johnson, who was educated at the elite private school Eton and Oxford University. Johnson has sometimes struggled to parry her attacks during debates."
  • Reporter: Lawmaker Caroline Nokes, from Johnson's Conservative Party, says she asked the speaker of the House of Commons to censure the reporter who wrote the story, Glen Owen, and perhaps revoke his press pass. Owen's story recounted that the anonymous lawmakers he quoted "mischievously" leveled the accusation.
(Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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