Now Angela Rayner's being criticised by a Tory MP for not smiling in parliament

Related video: Angela Rayner jokes about 'Basic Instinct' moment in podcast

BBC Radio 4

First it was the ludicrous suggestion that Angela Rayner was crossing and uncrossing her legs during Prime Minister’s Questions in a ‘Basic Instinct ploy’ to distract Boris Johnson, now the deputy Labour leader’s being criticised for not smiling – apparently.

Give us strength.

The latest comments came from Tory MP and walking gaffe Michael Fabricant on Tuesday, when the Queen’s Speech containing the UK government’s legislative proposals for the parliamentary year was being debated in the Commons.

After MPs proposing and seconding the speech cracked jokes about the Labour frontbench – and farmers viewing “nefarious internet videos” – Mr Fabricant wrote on Twitter: “During the speeches made by the proposers of the Queen’s Speech today, light-hearted, good-natured fun is traditionally poked at the opposition.

“Not once did Angela Rayner break into a smile, just sat there and sulked.”

Mr Fabricant’s apparent focus on Ms Rayner – rather than, y’know, the significant number of government bills announced that day – soon received condemnation on social media:

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It isn’t the first time the Conservative politician has taken aim at the prominent Labour MP, as he said in November that Ms Rayner “isn’t capable of holding down any job which requires intellect” following her criticism of Sir Geoffrey Cox’s second job.

“Classism and sexism is alive and well in the Conservative Party,” Ms Rayner hit back.

And Mr Fabricant’s latest remarks on the deputy Labour leader follow a public outcry over an article in the Mail on Sunday, which saw the right-wing newspaper regurgitate claims Ms Rayner was “distracting” the prime minister with her legs.

“Tory MPs have mischievously suggested that Ms Rayner likes to distract the PM when he is in the dispatch box by deploying a fully-clothed Parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone's infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct,” reads the article, published on 24 April.

The piece prompted more than 6,000 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) – who would go on to rule they would not take the complaints further – and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle called for a meeting with the paper’s editor to “discuss the issue affecting our parliamentary community”.

The request was rejected from editor David Dillon, who said he would “not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be”.

Responding to the original article at the time of its publication, Ms Rayner wrote on Twitter: “Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day – and I’m no different. This morning’s is the latest dose of gutter journalism courtesy of [the Mail on Sunday].

“Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted to spreading desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin. They know exactly what they are doing. The lies they are telling.

“I won’t be letting their vile lies deter me. Their attempts to harass and intimidate me will fail.”

Indy100 has contacted Mr Fabricant’s representatives for comment.

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