Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Angela Rayner does not need to “use her sex” to win an argument at the despatch box.
Ms Reeves said The Mail on Sunday article suggesting Angela Rayner tries to distract Boris Johnson with “Basic Instinct” tactics “shines a spotlight” on the sexism and misogyny that women face daily in Parliament.
She said: “I’m afraid that this story just shines a spotlight on the sort of rubbish that female MPs and other women in Parliament have to put up with on a day-to-day basis and it’s got to be called out because Angela Rayner is a fantastic politician and she takes on the Prime Minister when Keir (Starmer) is not available at the despatch box and she does it brilliantly.
“She 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, and to suggest otherwise, it’s just disgusting and it doesn’t do justice to the brilliant women we have in Parliament from all sides.”
Ms Reeves later added: “I hope that some good can come out of this awful article in The Mail on Sunday, and that is that people see what it is like in Parliament and people call out this misogyny and sexism for what it is and that we get some change because Angela and no other MP should have to put up with this sort of rubbish.
“But at the moment, it is the sort of thing that happens day in, day out in Parliament and I say that with great sadness and as somebody who is proud to be an MP and proud to be a woman in Parliament.”
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am sick and tired of the way that female MPs and women are treated in Parliament, and if this story, this outrageous slur on Angela gets change, that would be a good thing”.
She did not push for the Tory MP responsible for making the claims to be identified, but said the Conservative Party should be “talking long and hard to their MPs about what sort of things they should be saying and briefing to journalists”.
Ms Reeves declined to say if Labour would complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about the report in the Mail on Sunday.
Angela Rayner speaks at a protest by unions outside the Houses of Parliament, London, over P&O Ferries handing 800 seafarers immediate severance notices last week James Manning
Shadow chancellor of the exchequer Rachel Reeves arrives at BBC Broadcasting House, London, to appear on the BBC1 current affairs programme Aaron Chown