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British tabloid Sunday Mail on Sunday published an article in which he insinuates, in a wholly pretext manner and with sexist and sexist tones, that Labor MP Angela Rayner during the speeches in parliament by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson would cross her legs in a provocative way to distract him. The newspaper, which is the Sunday edition of the Daily Maila tabloid as popular in the UK as discredited for the poor quality of its content, cited an anonymous Conservative MP as the source of this insinuation.
Immediately after the article was published, the newspaper was widely criticized and accused of sexism and misogyny. The accusations came primarily from Rayner and his party colleagues, but also from the Conservatives and from Johnson himself.
The article, written by Glen Owen, head of policy for the Mail on Sundayopens with the title “Conservatives accuse Rayner of a Basic Instinct to distract Boris’, in which reference is made to well-known scene from the 1992 film starring Sharon Stone in which the latter crosses her legs during an interrogation, revealing that she is not wearing underwear.
In the article the anonymous Conservative MP argues that Rayner “likes to distract the prime minister when [Johnson] takes the floor in the center of the room “, and that she” stages a parliamentary version “dressed” of the famous scene of Basic Instinct ». In the article, the Conservative MP also insinuates that Rayner “knows he can’t compete” with Johnson’s debating skills, but adds, making implicit sexual references, that “he has other qualities he lacks.” The MP also accuses Rayner of having revealed all this herself, “while having a drink on the terrace of the parliament.”
Tories accusations Labor’s Angela Rayner of Basic Instinct ploy to distract Boris Johnson: pic.twitter.com/4FOmi2r8HK
– MoS_Politics (@MoS_Politics) April 23, 2022
After the article was published, Rayner he said that what is written by Mail on Sunday it is the demonstration of the sexism and misogyny that women in politics have to suffer every day. She tweeted that all the accusations leveled at her in the article are based solely on the fact that “she is a woman, has legs and is wearing clothes.”
His criticisms were then joined by those of Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor Party, who said that what the newspaper wrote is the result of a misogynist culture that is imbued with the entire British parliament.
Boris Johnson commented on the article on Sunday, writing on Twitter: “While I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost all political issues, I respect her as an MP and deplore the misogyny directed against her anonymously today.” On Monday he returned to the issue, saying that what happened is intolerable. He added that the MP who said those things will suffer “the terrors of the Earth” (a quote from William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear), should his identity ever be discovered.
House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said on Monday she would summon the director of the Mail on Sunday to report to parliament on the matter. In the last few hours there has also been discussion of the possibility of withdrawing the pass from the author of the article to access the parliamentary areas reserved for political journalists.
It is not the first time that the British parliament has been accused of sexist culture, where women represent a clear minority (225 out of 650 parliamentarians in the House of Commons, and 222 out of 798 in the House of Lords). In recent years, several cases of sexual harassment and psychological abuse of women working in parliament by male politicians have also emerged.
The case of the article of the Mail on Sunday comes at a particularly sensitive time for the Conservatives and for Johnson, whose stability had been seriously undermined by the so-called Partygate, the scandal of parties organized during the pandemic, for which he and Economy Minister Rishi Sunak had been fined. Sunak also ended up at the center of another major tax avoidance scandal involving his wife.
– Read also: The institutional misogyny of the British police