Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said the idea that Angela Rayner is distracting Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions is “laughable” but was an example of the “extreme misogyny” women in politics face every day.
The Mail on Sunday claimed an unnamed Tory MP had told the newspaper deputy Labour leader Rayner crossed and uncrossed her legs on the front bench in an attempt to ‘distract’ the PM.
The paper likened the claims to a scene from the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct and said she was trying to put Johnson “off his stride”.
On Sunday, Rayner called the story “desperate” and “perverted” and quickly received solidarity from across the House of Commons for the “smear”.
Johnson was also among those to publicly condemn the claims on Twitter.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Dugdale said a lot of women have to “quietly put with comments like this on a day-by-day basis”.
She said: “I think this is definitely a particularly egregious example, and the idea that Angela Rayner is defeating Boris Johnson’s Oxford-based debating skills with the power of her legs alone is just a nonsense, and it’s laughable, but it’s an example of the extreme misogyny that women face in politics every single day.
“You’re just hearing about this particular example because Angela Rayner is senior enough to have power and agency to call it out and demand that there are consequences for what has happened.
“But for a lot of women, they just have to quietly put up with comments like this on a day-by-day basis.
“It’s really, really disappointing and kind of depressing that despite the increased levels of women’s representation we’ve got in politics across the United Kingdom, the culture hasn’t changed anywhere near to the extent that it should have.”
On Sunday, Johnson wrote to Rayner to insist the “misogynistic” claims were not in his name.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the PM sent the deputy Labour leader a letter in response to the report.
Johnson reportedly moved to assure Rayner in the private letter that the comments were “not in his name”, expressing his sympathy over the anonymous attack.