The saga began when The Mail published a story on April 23, titled: “Tories accuse Angela Rayner of Basic Instinct ploy to distract Boris.”
“Conservatives have claimed that Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner likes to put Mr Johnson ‘off his stride’ in the chamber by crossing and uncrossing her legs when they clash at Prime Minister’s Questions...
“One MP said: ‘She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.
‘She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace.’”
The story prompted a firestorm of criticism: both of the newspaper itself, and of the allegedly misogynistic culture towards female MPs more generally.
MPs across the political spectrum criticised the newspaper, with Boris Johnson himself describing the story as “sexist, misogynist tripe” and threatening to unleash the “terrors of the earth” on the anonymous source of it.
Ms Rayner herself said in the wake of the article: “As women we sometimes try to brush aside the sexism we face, but that doesn’t make it ok.
“[It is] mortifying and deeply hurtful. I don’t need anyone to explain sexism to me – I experience it every day.”
But a senior Tory Party source has now been quoted by the BBC as saying: “Following the Mail on Sunday Rayner story, queries were made about who the Conservative MP was that supposedly made the comments.
“During those queries it was found that Rayner had made the comments [to the MP] herself.”
According to the Mail, this probe by the Tories’ internal disciplinary team had unearthed four Tory MPs who testified that Ms Rayner had herself raised the issue with them during an evening on the House of Commons terrace.
According to one of the MPs, she told them that during PMQs she liked “to do my Sharon Stone trick. I cross and uncross my legs and give him a flash of my ginger g******”.
Asked about this, a Labour source replied: “The idea that Angela initiated these vile sexist smears shows just how far Conservative MPs will go to avoid talking about tackling the cost of living.”