Sunak declines to apologise for transgender jibe despite calls from Brianna Ghey's family

By John Mercury February 8, 2024

Rishi Sunak has declined to apologise for his joke about transgender people, despite Brianna Ghey’s father calling for him to say sorry.

The prime minister was criticised for aiming the political dig about transgender people at Sir Keir Starmer, saying the Labour leader had broken promises on “defining a woman” while Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, was in parliament.

Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Brianna’s father Peter Spooner called Mr Sunak’s remarks “degrading” and “absolutely dehumanising” and said the prime minister should apologise.

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Asked whether he would do so today, Mr Sunak said: “If you look at what I said, I was very clear, talking about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of U-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan.

“A point only proven by today’s reports that the Labour Party and Keir Starmer are apparently planning to reverse on their signature economic green spending policy.

“That just demonstrates the point I was making. He’s someone who has just consistently changed his mind on a whole range of major things.

“I think that is an absolutely legitimate thing to point out and it demonstrates that he doesn’t have a plan for the country.”

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PM’s ‘shame’ over transgender comment

Mr Sunak added: “Like everyone, I was completely shocked by Brianna‘s case. To have your child taken from you in such awful circumstances is almost impossible to come to terms with, and for Brianna’s mum to talk with such empathy and compassion about that, I thought, was inspiring and it showed the very best of humanity.

“I’ve nothing but the most heartfelt sympathy for her entire family and friends.

“But to use that tragedy to detract from the very separate and clear point I was making about Keir Starmer’s proven track 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.”

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Brianna Ghey’s family give emotional statements

Government ministers have repeatedly not apologised for the comments, despite further calls to do so from many opposition MPs.

Kemi Badenoch, who is trade secretary and also equalities minister, said yesterday: “Every murder is a tragedy. None should be trivialised by political point-scoring. As a mother, I can imagine the trauma that Esther Ghey has endured.

“It was shameful of Starmer to link his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender directly to her grief.

“As minister for women and equalities, I’ve done all I can to ensure we have take [sic] the heat out of the debate on LGBT issues while being clear about our beliefs and principles.

“Keir Starmer’s behaviour today shows Labour are happy to weaponise this issue when it suits them.”

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Speaking this morning to Sky News, policing minister Chris Philp did concede that “there is a wider point here for politicians, for journalists, for everybody to keep in mind when there are very sensitive issues being discussed, to always use respectful and measured language, lest there are unintended consequences”.

And Penny Mordaunt, who is the Conservative’s leader of the House of Commons, said that “the prime minister is a good and caring man.

“I am sure that he has reflected on things and I understand he will say something later today, or perhaps even during this session.”


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