DOUGLAS Ross has condemned "disgusting" slurs made by a Tory MP against Angela Rayner which suggested she used a “Basic Instinct ploy” to distract the Prime Minister in the Commons.

The Scottish Conservative leader hit out at a party colleague who told the Mail on Sunday the Labour deputy leader deliberately tried to distract the Prime Minister in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs while sitting opposite him at Prime Minister's Questions.

Speaking about Ms Rayner, pictured below in the Commons, a Conservative party anonymous source told the paper: "She knows she can't compete with Boris's Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks."

The Herald:

Asked by the Herald on a local council election visit near Glasgow if Conservative MPs had an issue with women in politics, Mr Ross said: "Well there is at least one who made those disgusting comments. 

"I don't know what was going through their mind. I can't imagine what they thought they would achieve from demeaning [comments] and comments that have no place at all in Westminster politics, wider politics or life in general," he said.

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"And I think it is deeply concerning that those views are held by one individual and then repeated to journalists."

Pressed if those views were held more widely by other Tory MPs, he said: "Well not those comments as I was with a number of colleagues in Westminster this week and the anger among colleagues that one MP could say that was palpable. People were furious and rightly we have seen a commendable and strong reaction from Angela Rayner."

Mr Ross went on to praise Ms Rayner's performances at PMQs in the Commons when she has stood in for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer when he has been absent.

"Week in, week out I think, Angela Rayner - if we look at Labour's performances at Prime Minister's Questions, the toughest questions and best performances have come from Angela Rayner and not from Keir Starmer and that just shows the calibre of who she is."

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The Scottish Tory chief said it would be right if the Tory MP was punished.
"This is a cowardly man who made a cheap jibe which has a huge implication not just on Angela but has responded brilliantly - as I would expect a strong woman like her to respond. And if this person ever comes forward and accept the wrong, I would expect a strong punishment from the whips," he said.

Mr Ross went onto say there was an issue with misogyny in politics.

"Sadly I don't think it's confined to Westminster. It's politics in general. That's why we see it's been so difficult to get some women to come forward. I know speaking to candidates even at a local level," he said asked if misogyny existed at Westminster and Holyrood.

"I have candidates who raise concerns with me that it's difficult on the doorstep or in the high street that they get comments which have no place in 2022. It's sad that these views are held by some people and articulated by some."

The Mail on Sunday article sparked a furious backlash. Boris Johnson described it as “the most appalling load of sexist, misogynist tripe” and promised to unleash the “terrors of the earth” on whoever was responsible for briefing the journalist. 

Speaking to ITV’s Lorraine, Ms Rayner said she and her office pleaded with the paper not to run the story, saying it was categorically untrue. The MP said she had to prepare her children for the story coming out. 

She said that “all I worry about when I’m at the despatch box is doing a good job and being able to do justice to my constituents and the work I’m doing, so I was just really crestfallen that somebody had said that to a paper and a paper was reporting that”.

“It wasn’t just about me as a woman, saying I was using the fact I’m a woman against the Prime Minister – which I think is quite condescending to the Prime Minister and shows you what his MPs think about his behaviour – but it was steeped in classism as well,” she added.

She said the article also she “must be thick and must be stupid because I went to a comprehensive school.”

“And they talk about my background, because I had a child when I was young, as if to say I was promiscuous - that was the insinuation - which I felt was quite offensive for people from my background,” Ms Rayner added.