SIR Keir Starmer has refused to back his deputy Angela Rayner after she called the Tories racist, homophobic “scum” at a meeting at the Labour party conference.

“I wouldn’t have used those words and I will talk to Angela later on,” he said, in the latest row between the pair. 

Sir Keir sacked Ms Rayner as party chair and campaigns coordinator after bad council and byelection results in May, but she pushed backed and emerged with an enlarged role, becoming shadow secretary for the future of work and shadow to Michael Gove. 

Ms Rayner also refused to back Sir Keir’s plan to change the leadership election rules in a way likely to make it harder for another left-winger like Jeremy Corbyn to win.

Sir Keir was forced to water down what was supposed to be a key part of his leadership  relaunch this weekend.  

Ms Rayner, who was widely praised for her performance at PMQs last week when she stood in for Sir Keir, has also made no secret of her ambition to replace him.

She told the Times this week: "If I felt that it was the right thing to do for the party and the right thing for the country, then I would step up and do it."

In the latest row, the Daily Mirror reported Ms Rayner made the comments in Brighton while attending a meeting of Labour activist from northwest England. 

Ms Rayner said: 'I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and i bet youse lot are too. 'We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, mysoginistic, absolute pile …of banana republic…Etonian…piece of scum…and I held back a little…that I have ever seen in my life.”

Government minister Amanda Milling described the Ashton-under-Lyne MP's remarks as “shocking” and called on her to apologise.

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Sir Keir was asked about the comments after he had called for tolerant and respectful debate on another issue.

He said: “Angela and I take different approaches and that is not language that I would use.”

Asked if she should apologise, Sir Keir said: “Angela has said those words, she takes a different approach to me, we have different approaches to how we get our messages across. “It’s not language that I would have used.”

Pressed on whether she should apologise, the Labour leader said: “That’s a matter for Angela. I would not have used those words. 

“At conference there are a fizz of ideas, there are arguments, there’s disagreements, comings together. What I focus on is.. the absolute crisis in the country, working families up and down the country.. our conference is out chance to set out the alternative and that is what we are going to do.”

Asked what he was going to say to his deputy, Sir Keir said: “I wouldn’t have used those words and I will talk to Angela later on.” 

Pressed once more on whether she should apologise, he said: “That’s a matter for Angela. I would not have used those words.”

But Ms Rayner doubled down on the comments on Sky News this morning.

She said: “Anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds to their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy.

“Now that is a phrase, and let me contextualise it, it’s a phrase that you would hear very often in northern working-class towns. We’d even say it jovially to other people. 

“And that to me is my street language …I’m not saying that anyone who voted for Conservatives are racist, scummy and homophobic …

“I’m saying the prime minister has said those things and has acted in that way …

“If the prime minister wants to apologise, and remove himself from those comments that he’s made that are homophobic that racist, that are misogynistic, then I will apologise for calling him scummy.”