Boris Johnson battles to fend off sexism row
<br>A sensational piece in the right-wing Mail on Sunday newspaper headlined: "Tories (Conservative party members) accuse Angela Rayner (Deputy Leader of the Opposition Labour party) of Basic Instinct ploy to distract Boris" - a reference to the steamy 1992 film starring Sharon Stone. It further captioned: "MPs claim Labour deputy leader likes to put PM 'off his stride' by crossing and uncrossing her legs at PMQs (prime minister's questions in the House of Commons)".
The paper quoted a spokesman for Rayner, 41, as saying the suggestion was "categorically untrue". She does wear short skirts while sitting on the front bench next to the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs, but this is generally considered in the western world today as smart rather than sexy dressing.
Johnson contacted Rayner on Sunday to convey that he considered claims about her misogynistic. Referring to the newspaper article, he tweeted: "As much as I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost every political issue, I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today."
On Monday, The Guardian daily reported: "Johnson is also understood to have written directly to Rayner. The contents of the letter have not been shared, except for one quote reported by the Telegraph (a pro-Johnson broadsheet) that stated: 'The comments were not in my name'."
On BBC Radio, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves said: "I am sick and tired of the way that female MPs and women are treated in parliament." She described the incident as an "outrageous slur on Angela".
Thereafter appearing on the TV programme BBC Breakfast, she added: "She (Rayner)doesn't need to use her sex to win an argument or put the Prime Minister off, or whatever was suggested in that article. She does it by the strength of her argument."
Chris Philip, Technology Minister in Johnson's government, told Sky News he expected government whips would investigate who had made the comments, and if their identity emerged he would "imagine they would be subject to discipline".
Glen Owen, political editor of Mail on Sunday, who wrote the story is facing questions over whether his Lobby pass should be withdrawn, the Press Gazette claimed. The UK's Independent Press Standards Organisation is said to have received 5,500 complaints within 24 hours about the article, which penned: "All is fair in love, war and Commons duels with Boris Johnson, if the claims of Tory MPs are to be believed."