Rishi Sunak refuses to apologise to Brianna’s family for swiping at Keir Starmer’s trans views while Esther Ghey was watching PMQs saying it was ‘entirely legitimate’ to criticise Labour leader
Rishi Sunak today refused to apologize to Brianna’s family for swipe to Keir Starmer‘s trans views while Esther Ghey watched PMQs.
The Prime Minister insisted it was ‘perfectly legal’ to mock the Labor leader’s claim that some women have penises, moments after being told the murdered teenager’s mother was watching the session from the gallery.
Mr Sunak said he had ‘nothing but the deepest sympathy’ for Brianna’s family and friends, but it was ‘sad and wrong’ to link his comments to the case.
Some Tories have also gone on the attack against Sir Keir, accusing him of using the family of the trans teenager for ‘political point-scoring’.
But other conservatives expressed discomfort with the tone of the exchanges. Community leader Penny Mordaunt suggested Mr Sunak should ‘reflect on things’.
Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, last night apologized for the ‘degrading’ comments, and friends of Mrs Ghey said she was thinking about what was said.
Asked if he would apologise, he told reporters in Cornwall: ‘If you look at what I said, I was very clear and talking about Keir Starmer’s proven record of U-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan.
‘A point only proven by today’s reports that the Labor Party and Keir Starmer appear to be planning to change their signature economic green spending policy.
‘It just demonstrates the point I was making. He is someone who has just consistently changed his mind about a whole series of big things.
“I think it’s an absolutely legitimate thing to point out and it shows that he doesn’t have a plan for the country.”
In a round of interviews this morning, Chris Philp, minister of policing, said Mr. Sunak is keen to meet the family, although nothing has been confirmed.
Speaking on a visit to Cornwall today, Rishi Sunak said he had ‘nothing but the deepest sympathy’ for Brianna’s family and friends, but it was ‘sad and wrong’ to link his comments to the case.
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were both 15 when they killed Brianna, 16, with a hunting knife after luring her to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on February 11 last year.
Sir Keir Starmer later met Esther Ghey in the Commons
Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch – the favorite to become the next Tory leader – weighed in to defend the prime minister
The Prime Minister hit out at the Labor leader’s view that not all women have penises as they clashed in the Commons
Mr Sunak said: ‘Like everyone else I was completely shocked by Brianna’s case. To have your child taken away from you in such horrific circumstances is almost impossible to get over, and for Brianna’s mother to talk about it with such empathy and compassion, I thought, was inspiring and it showed the best of humanity .
‘I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for all her family and friends.
“But to use that tragedy to detract from the very separate and distinct point I made about Keir Starmer’s proven record of multiple U-turns on major policies, because he doesn’t have a plan, I think is both sad and wrong, and it demonstrates the worst of politics.’
Earlier, Mr Philp told BBC Breakfast: ‘The Prime Minister did not refer to any individual trans people at all.
‘It was Keir Starmer who introduced it. The Prime Minister made a point about Labour’s many flip-flops.’
Ms Ghey has been invited to a meeting with the PM, although it has not yet been confirmed if and when this will take place.
Emma Mills, Brianna’s head at Birchwood High School, who accompanied Mrs Ghey to Parliament on Wednesday, told BBC Breakfast: ‘We got into the gallery late and missed what was said and I don’t think she really had time to to look at. the context and what exactly was said, and she wants some time to be able to do that today.
“Yesterday, while we were there, we were just so focused on the awareness debate that we have going and making sure that it moves forward in a positive way. It wasn’t something we really discussed yesterday.’
During the PMQs exchanges, Sir Keir noted that Esther Ghey was watching the session as he paid tribute after her daughter’s killers were jailed for a crime which a court heard was partly fueled by transphobia.
Seconds later, Mr Sunak cheered the Labor leader’s view that not all women have penises – a common attack he had used in previous sessions of the Wednesday showpiece.
Although Ms Ghey had not yet taken her seat in the public gallery, Sir Keir hit back, saying: ‘Of all the weeks to say this, when Brianna’s mother is in this room.
‘Shame. Parading as a man of integrity when he has absolutely no responsibility.’
Mr Spooner told Sky News last night: ‘For the Prime Minister to come out with demeaning comments like he did, regardless of whether they are related to discussions in Parliament, they are absolutely dehumanizing.
“Identities of people should not be used in that way, and I personally feel shocked by his comments and feel he should apologize for his comments.”
While the quarrel over Mr. Sunak’s comments spilled out in the hours after PMQs, with No10 refusing to apologize six times for the comments, before cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch – the favorite to become the next Tory leader – weighed in to defend the prime minister.
‘Every murder is a tragedy. None should be destroyed by political point-scoring. As a mother I can only imagine the trauma Esther Ghey has endured,’ the minister for women and equality wrote on the X social media website.
‘It was disgraceful of Starmer to directly link his own inability to be clear on the issue of sex and gender to her grief.
‘As Minister for Women and Equalities, I have done everything in my power to ensure that we take the heat out of the debate on LGBT issues while being clear about our beliefs and principles. Keir Starmer’s behavior today shows Labor is happy to weaponize this issue when it suits them.’
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also defended the prime minister, telling the BBC he was making a point “that we have a Labor Party that cannot make up its mind on big issues of the day.”
Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, last night apologized for the ‘degrading’ comments
But Ms Mordaunt said today before the Prime Minister’s words were broadcast from Cornwall: ‘Whatever the rough and tumble of this place, whatever the pressures and mistakes made in the heat of political battles, we owe it to the people who sent us here to strive every day to make them proud of us and this place.
‘The Prime Minister is a good and caring man. I’m sure he’s reflected on things and I understand he’ll say something later today, or maybe even during this session.
‘It’s not just Mr and Mrs Ghey that he has to think about, but I’m sure he’s also thinking about people who are trans, or who have trans loved ones and family, some of whom are sitting on these green benches.
“I hope the leader of the Opposition will also reflect on his actions.”
Former Tory minister Dehenna Davison said it was ‘disappointing’ to ‘hear jokes made at the trans community’s expense’.
Posting on X, formerly Twitter, the Bishop Auckland MP said: ‘Wasn’t in Parliament today thanks to a migraine attack so just caught up on PMQs.
‘The debate around trans issues is often fueled at the edge. As politicians, it is our job to take the heat out of such debates and focus on finding sensible ways forward, while ensuring that those involved are treated with respect.
“Given some of the horrific cases of transphobia we’ve seen recently, this need for respect feels more important than ever.
‘That’s why it was disappointing to hear jokes being made at the trans community’s expense. Our words in the House resonate right across our society, and we all need to remember that.’