An opposition MP accused of playing with her physique to disturb Boris Johnson: this misogynistic attack relayed by a tabloid has sparked outrage in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister denouncing “sexist bullshit“.
At the origin of the scandal, an article published on Sunday in the Mail on Sunday, a tabloid known for its conservative line and willingly sensationalist. The newspaper claims that Tory MPs are comparing Angela Rayner to actress Sharon Stone in the film “Basic instinct“, ensuring that she likes to divert the attention of the Prime Minister by crossing and uncrossing her legs in Parliament. This Labor MP, deputy leader of the main opposition party, regularly replaces her number 1 Keir Starmer, during questions to the head of government organized every Wednesday noon. These give rise to heated verbal contests between her and Boris Johnson, two political figures with diametrically opposed styles and backgrounds.
While Boris Johnson, 57, comes from a privileged background and attended the very elite college of Eton and then the prestigious University of Oxford, Angela Rayner, 42, grew up in social housing and left school at 16, pregnant with her first son. She became a social worker before joining a union and then in politics and was elected in 2015 in the constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne, not far from Manchester (north of England). In its article, the Mail on Sunday quotes anonymous Tory MPs, one of whom claims that Angela Rayner “can’t compete“with the oratory skills of Boris Johnson”but (that) she has other skills that she lacks“.
Angela Rayner denounced on Twitter the “gutter journalism“, and underlined that “in politics, women face sexism and misogyny daily“. This MP, known for her outspokenness – she had to apologize in September for calling the Conservatives “garbage– received support from parliamentarians on all sides, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson lamenting on Twitter on Sunday “misogyny directed anonymously against her“.
“I thought that was the most appalling sexist and misogynistic bullshithe told reporters on Monday. Boris Johnson has warned there will be retaliation if the perpetrators of sexist comments are identified, deeming them “totally intolerable“. On Monday afternoon, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, also condemned remarks which “can only deter women who might consider running for office, to the detriment of all“. He announced a meeting with the president of the parliamentary press association and the editor of the Mail on Sunday on the matter.
Despite the often provocative front pages of the tabloid, this new projection does not seem to pass: the press regulator, Ipso (Independent Press Standards Organisation) said it had received “a large number of complaints“. It sheds new light on sexism in politics, the day after a Sunday Times article revealed that three ministers and two opposition MPs are currently facing charges of “bad behavior of a sexual natureterm that can cover sexual harassment, voyeurism or sexual assault. They are among 56 deputies referred to an office responsible for registering these complaints, set up following the movement “metoo“.
For Labor leader Keir Starmer, with these anonymous attacks, the Conservative Party, “mired in scandal and chaos” hit “a new background“. With the approach of local elections on May 5, the party in power approaches the ballot bogged down in the “party gate“, these parties organized in the circles of power during the confinements. This scandal has caused the popularity rating of Boris Johnson to fall, for whom the ballot will be a test.
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