Rishi Sunak’s Controversial Comment On Transgender Sparks Call For Apology

Rishi Sunak’s Controversial Comment On Transgender Sparks Call For Apology

By Ben Kerrigan-

Rishi Sunak’s  jibe about Sir Keir Starmer’s position on trans people at Prime Minister’s Questions has sparked calls for an apology .

The calls follow the prime minister’s ridiculing of the Labour leader for  an apparent U-turn on the “definition of a woman”.

Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “truly terrible from Sunak” but “had Brianna’s mum not been there today no one (including Keir Starmer) would have batted an eyelid,” while SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said the prime minister “once again degraded his office”, vowing “it will not be forgotten”

Starmer  had began his first question of PMQs by saying Esther Ghey was watching the session.

“This week, the unwavering bravery of Brianna Ghey’s mother, Esther, has touched us all. As a father I can’t even imagine the pain that she’s going through.

Mr Sunak responded by attacking Starmer’s credibility. He said: “We are bringing the waiting lists down for the longest waiters and making progress, but it is a bit rich to hear about promises from someone who has broken every single promise he was elected on.

“I think I have counted almost 30 in the last year. Pensions, planning, peerages, public sector pay, tuition fees, childcare, second referendums, defining a woman – although in fairness that was only 99% of a U-turn.”

Sir Keir was visibly furious and responded : “Of all the weeks to say that when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber.”

The Labour leader eventually met with Esther Ghey, the mother of transgender teenager Brianna Ghey, who was murdered last year.

The meeting was at Ms Ghey’s request, a Labour spokesperson has said.

Downing Street has defended Sunak’s decision to question Sir Keir’s position on transgender issues,  declining  to apologise for Mr Sunak’s language which it described as “legitimate” criticism of Labour.

A spokesman for the PM said: “If you look back on what the Prime Minister was saying, there was a long list of u-turns that the leader of the opposition had been making.

“I don’t think those u-turns are a joke, it is quite serious changes in public policy. I think it is totally legitimate for the Prime Minister to point those out.”

Brianna Ghey’s mother Esther was not in the public gallery for the exchange but entered shortly afterwards.

Later, Mr Sunak ignored a call from Labour MP Liz Twist to “apologise to Brianna Ghey’s mother”.

At the end of the session the prime minister said Ms Ghey represented “the very best of humanity” for the “compassion” she showed after her 16-year-old daughter, who was transgender, was murdered by two teenagers who had a fascination with violence.

Mr Sunak said Sir Keir had changed his position on “defining a woman – although in fairness, that was only 99% of a U-turn”.

His comments referred to an interview where Sir Keir had said “99.9% of women haven’t got a penis”.

Sir Keir  responded by saying: “Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber. Shame.

“Parading as a man of integrity when he’s got absolutely no responsibility.”

Later a spokeswoman for Sir Keir said: “We don’t think the country wants or deserves a prime minister who is happy to use minorities as a punch bag.

“The comments were deeply offensive to trans people. He should reflect on his response there and apologise.”

However, Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch said it was “shameful” of Sir Keir “to link his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender” to Ms Ghey’s grief.

“Every murder is a tragedy. None should be trivialised by political point-scoring,” the Tory MP wrote on X.

Mr Sunak  however sought to soften the blow of his earlier controversial comment by repeated previous comments that the murder of Brianna “was an unspeakable and shocking tragedy”.

Ms Ghey “deserves all our admiration” for showing “empathy” for the family of her daughter’s killers, he said.

Brianna was  brutally murdered after being lured  to a park near her home by a school friend, in a stabbing partially motivated by hostility towards Brianna because she was transgender.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell later tried to use parliamentary rules to force Mr Sunak back to the Commons to apologise for making a “transphobic joke” during LGBT History Month.

Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing said she could not compel Mr Sunak to apologise, but advised MPs that “when a tragedy has occurred we ought to show sympathy and understanding and not always make political points”.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “People are not a punchline – and it’s long overdue that the prime minister learns that. The British public, and Brianna’s mother, deserve so much more than this.”

The controversy has continued to spark a debate over the matter in may quarters and on social media.


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