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The Speaker of the House of Commons has summoned the editor of a national newspaper for a meeting after an article about Angela Rayner that has been roundly condemned as misogynistic.

The story in the Mail on Sunday cited Conservative MPs saying that Labour’s deputy leader deliberately distracted Mr Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs.

One anonymous source was reported as saying: "She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks."

It was described as "misogynist and sexist tripe" by the prime minister – a sentiment shared by the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Politics Hub: Boris Johnson sent a ‘short but heartfelt’ message to Angela Rayner

Sir Lindsay told MPs that the story was "demeaning" and "offensive to women in parliament", adding that it "can only deter women who might be considering standing for election to the detriment of us all".

He said he had arranged a meeting with the chair of the press lobby and the editor of the Mail on Sunday, David Dillon, and the newspaper’s political editor Glen Owen "to discuss the issue affecting our parliamentary community" and will also separately meet Ms Rayner.

Speaking in Wales after Sir Linday’s announcement, Mr Johnson promised: "If we get to the bottom of this, of course, we’ll make sure whoever is responsible for this nonsense gets their comeuppance."

The PM added that he was not worried about the revelations affecting the upcoming local elections.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the "misogynist" culture in parliament must change.

Technology minister Chris Philp told Sky News that Tory whips will be "looking at whether they know" who made the comments and discovered they would be likely to be "subject to discipline".

Asked whether there was a cultural problem at Westminster, the prime minister – speaking on a visit to Bury – said: "It’s hard to say on the basis of that particular story.

"But I have to say I thought it was the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe.

"I immediately got in touch with Angela and we had a very friendly exchange.

"If we ever find who is responsible for it, I don’t know what we will do, but they will be the terrors of the earth.

"It’s totally intolerable, that kind of thing."

Earlier, Mr Philp told Sky News: "I was appalled that that sentiment was being expressed.

"It’s offensive, it’s misogynistic.

"The prime minister and cabinet ministers have been absolutely right to roundly condemn that sentiment and to offer support to Angela Rayner on this issue

"I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that or even hinted it and if I did I would be disgusted and appalled.

"Nobody should have to suffer the kind of misogynistic abuse which that sentiment amounts to.

"If it ever comes out who said that then I imagine they would be subject to discipline."

Asked whether whips would be seeking to find out who briefed the newspaper, Mr Philp said: "I think they’ll be looking at whether they know who said this.

"I’ve got no idea who said it.

"No one has ever said anything like that to me or even hinted at it.

"I think everybody is appalled by the misogynistic sentiment.

"We all need to keep the tone of discourse in public life civil and respectful and focus on the issues that our constituents expect us to deal with, not engage of this kind of – what essentially is – abuse."

Ms Rayner responded to the article over the weekend, saying: "Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day – and I’m no different.

"Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted to spreading desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin."

On Monday, Ms Rayner’s front bench Labour colleague Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said that with "great sadness" she was "not surprised" at the story.

"This sort of sexism and misogyny is frankly the sort of rubbish that female MPs but also female staffers in the House of Commons have to put up with every single day.

"When I hear a minister say ‘I haven’t heard this sort of thing before’ – talk to your female colleagues, talk to the women who work in your office, because a lot of them would have experienced this sort of thing."

Commenting on the story, Sir Keir Starmer told ITV’s This Morning programme: "It is rank sexism, rank misogyny. She was really disgusted that all of her political attributes were put aside for this ridiculous, offensive story.

"She shouldn’t have to put up with it but all women in politics shouldn’t have to put up with it. Almost every woman in politics has had an element of this in some shape or form.

"We have got to change the culture. The culture in parliament, it is sexist, it is misogynist. We need to change it."

© Sky News 2022