Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has apologised “unreservedly” for calling Conservatives “scum”.
The Ashton-under-Lyne MP previously said she would only apologise for her remark when the prime minister also apologised for his problematic past comments.
Rayner’s apology came after she was targeted by threats and at a time when Westminster is still mourning the loss of Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery. She also had time off following a bereavement.
Rayner made headlines when, speaking of Conservatives at Labour’s conference in September, she said: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile …of banana republic…Etonian…piece of scum.”
In a statement on Facebook published last night, she wrote:“While I have been away from the cut and thrust of Parliament I have reflected on our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often.
“I have also reflected on what I said at an event at Labour Party conference. I was angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent.
“But I would like to unreservedly apologise for the language I used, and I would not use it again. I will continue to speak my mind, stand up for Labour values and hold the Government to account. But in the future I will be more careful about how I do that and in the language that I choose,” she said.
She also paid tribute to the late Sir David in her statement, writing: “Sir David was a fine parliamentarian, a proud advocate for his constituents and above all such a kind, generous and warm-hearted man. He will be missed on all sides of the House.”
A statement on recent events: https://t.co/XJ92jWP9rI https://t.co/bvTaQDnUWa— Angela Rayner (@Angela Rayner) 1635441712
Yesterday a man was handed a suspended sentence for sending a threatening email to Rayner.
Benjamin Iliffe, 36, sent an email to Rayner warning her to “watch your back and your kids”.
Iliffe, who appeared in court via video-link from Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, sent the message because he felt she was “partially responsible” for the attack on Sir David after she called the Conservative party “scum”.
The Cambridgeshire man was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months at the hearing at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court.
In her statement, Rayner said: “It shakes you when you get these threats. You worry about the safety of your home, your office and everything in your life. And it takes its toll on the people who work for me too.”
Following yesterday’s events in court, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It is shocking and appalling that Angela Rayner has suffered threats against her and against her family.
“Solidarity to Angela from me and the whole party.”
Additional reporting by PA.
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