- Written by Kate Whannell
- Political reporter
Rishi Sunak said Keir Starmer was “sad and wrong” when he linked jibes about Labour’s transgender stance to the case of murdered transgender teenager Brianna Guy.
Defending himself vigorously, Sunak said the Labor leader had shown “the worst of politics”.
He also refused to apologize to Brianna's family, saying his words were “completely legitimate.”
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister mocked Sir Keir for his stance on “the definition of women”.
In response, the Labor leader strongly criticized Mr Sunak for making the comments on the day Brianna's mother was in Parliament.
Brianna's father told Sky News the Prime Minister's joke was “offensive” and called for an apology.
Senior Minister Penny Mordaunt suggested that Sunak and Sir Keir should “reflect” on their actions.
The exchange that sparked the row took place in the House of Commons, where Sunak mentioned what he described as a number of Labor U-turns, accusing Sir Keir of changing his position on “the definition of women”.
“Though to be fair, it was only a 99% turnaround,” he added.
Sir Keir replied: “Of all the weeks I've said that, when Brianna's mother is in this room. Shame.
“Paradise like an honest man when he takes no responsibility at all.”
Speaking to reporters in Cornwall, Mr Sunak strongly attacked the Labor leader for using Brianna's killing “to detract from the separate and very clear point I was making about Keir Starmer's proven record of multiple U-turns on key policies, because he doesn't do that”. “I have a plan, which I think is both sad and wrong, and shows the worst of politics.”
He said he had “nothing but sincere sympathy.” [Brianna’s] The whole family and friends.”
Brianna's mother Esther was not at the public exchange exhibition but arrived shortly afterwards.
Brianna's former headteacher Emma Mills was with Esther Guy during her visit to Parliament.
She told BBC Breakfast: “We arrived late to the show and missed what was said, and I don't think she had time to really consider the context and exactly what was said, and she just wanted a little time to enjoy it.” He can do it today.”
Asked about the comments on Thursday, House leader Penny Mordaunt said Mr Sunak was a “good and caring man”, adding: “I’m sure he has thought things through.
“And this is not just Mr and Mrs Guy that he should be thinking about, but I'm sure he's also thinking about people who are trans or have trans loved ones and families, some of whom are sitting on these green benches.
“I hope the Leader of the Opposition will also reflect on his actions as well.
“This government has been right to protect the safety and dignity of women at every stage of doing so, and has sought to bring certainty and reassurance to transgender people.
“This government is also right to hold the opposition accountable for its multiple contradictions and shifts in its political programme.”
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”