Angela Rayner Apologises 'Unreservedly' For Calling Tories 'Scum'

Labour deputy leader has “reflected on our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often”.
<strong>Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner at party conference in Brighton.</strong>
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner at party conference in Brighton.
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has apologised for describing Conservatives as “scum”.

Her apology followed a period of reflection while off work following a bereavement.

It also came after she was targeted by threats and at a time when Westminster is still mourning the loss of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP who was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery.

In a post on her social media channels, the MP said: “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.”

At her party’s conference last month, Rayner labelled Tories as “scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic”.

She later defended her comments as “street language”.

Om Thursday a court heard how a former delivery driver sent Rayner a threatening email because he felt she was “partially responsible” for the fatal attack on Sir David after she called the Conservative party “scum”.

Benjamin Iliffe, 36, sent a threatening email from his personal account on October 16 and was arrested on Wednesday, Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court heard.

The defendant, who appeared by video-link from Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, warned Rayner to “watch your back and your kids” in the email.

In a Facebook post after Iliffe was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, Rayner said: “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.

“I want to address the threats I have received recently. In the past I have been reluctant to speak out about the abuse that I receive because I fear that doing so will only make the situation worse.

“However, in recent weeks the threats that I have received against my life and the lives of close family have been so terrifying and explicit that I could not stay silent and simply continue to take it as ‘part of the job’.

“They have had a devastating impact on me, my children and others close to me.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said he would not have used those words and spoke to Rayner about the comments during the Brighton conference.

Following Thursday’s events in court, 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.”