A minister has called for “respectful and measured” language to be used by politicians after Rishi Sunak made a jibe about Sir Keir Starmer’s stance on transgender issues while the mother of murdered Brianna Ghey was in parliament.
So far, there has been no apology from the government for the prime minister’s remarks, despite Brianna’s father Peter Spooner calling them “degrading” and “absolutely dehumanising”.
Mr Sunak was criticised for aiming the political dig about transgender people at Sir Keir, saying the Labour leader had broken promises on “defining a woman” while Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, was in parliament.
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Chris Philp, the policing minister, refused numerous times to apologise for the prime minister while speaking to Sky News on Thursday morning – despite the fact Brianna’s family had asked for one.
However, he said: “I think 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.”
When asked whether the prime minister should apologise, Mr Philp suggested Mr Sunak shouldn’t because he was talking about Sir Keir’s “numerous flip flops and U-turns on all kinds of different issues”.
He added that the prime minister later paid a “very fulsome tribute to Brianna and her family and the courage they’ve shown in what have been very difficult circumstances”.
Asked why the prime minister hadn’t apologised despite the comments from Brianna’s father, Mr Philp repeated: “(Mr Sunak) was talking very clearly about Keir Starmer’s flip flops and U-turns. It was very clear.”
Mr Philp later insisted that the prime minister was referring to Sir Keir’s stance on trans issues and “didn’t even come close to mentioning Brianna”.
The policing minister added that Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan wants to meet with Brianna’s mother to talk about issues related to social media that were relevant in the case of her death.
Brianna, 16, was murdered by Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe who were both 15 when the schoolgirl was stabbed to death in a Cheshire park last February.
The pair, who are both 16, will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18.