Advertisement

Brianna Ghey’s mother breaks silence over Rishi Sunak trans row - latest

Brianna Ghey’s mother has said she wants to create a lasting legacy for her daughter by creating a more “understanding, peaceful, and stronger society” in her first comments since Rishi Sunak’s trans jibe at Prime Minister’s Questions.

In a message posted on her Peace and Mind Facebook page, Esther Ghey said: “I don’t wish to comment on reports of wording or comments recently made. My focus is on creating a positive change and a lasting legacy for Brianna.

“Through Peace & Mind, we want to improve lives by empowering people, giving them the tools they need to build mental resilience, empathy, and self-compassion through mindfulness.

“In developing these skills, I hope that we can create a more understanding, peaceful, and stronger society for everyone.”

Earlier, the prime minister refused to apologise to the parents of a murdered teenager after making a transgender joke in the commons.

He insisted his comments on Wednesday, made while Brianna Ghey’s mother Esther was visiting parliament, were “absolutely legitimate” because he was pointing out Sir Keir Starmer’s U-turns.

Key Points

  • Sunak makes joke about trans people at PMQs

  • Brianna’s mother breaks silence on Sunak row

  • Jibe made as Brianna Ghey’s mother visited parliament

  • Brianna’s father demands apology over ‘disgusting’ remarks

  • Starmer meets Esther Ghey

ICYMI: Sunak ‘very keen’ to meet Brianna’s parents

18:39 , Matt Mathers

Policing minister Chris Philp said Mr Sunak is “very keen” to meet Brianna’s family and it is understood Number 10 has reached out to arrange a meeting.

Brianna’s mother had been in Westminster during PMQs with her local MP in Warrington, Charlotte Nichols, as she campaigns for mindfulness lessons to be taught in schools following the killing of her daughter.

Brianna was stabbed to death by teenagers Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe in a Cheshire park last February.

Chris Philp (PA Archive)
Chris Philp (PA Archive)

Badenoch ‘wrong’ to say Labour weaponised Brianna case

18:00 , Matt Mathers

Kemi Badenoch was “wrong” to suggest that Labour weaponised Rishi Sunak’s comments about trans people, Keir Starmer has said.

Cabinet ministers have defended the prime minister over the remarks, insisting they were not directly connected to Brianna’s case, with Ms Badenoch, the business secretary, accusing Labour of trying to “weaponise” the exchange in its criticism.

Asked about Ms Badenoch’s claim, the Labour leader said: “She’s completely and utterly wrong. The idea that I’m responsible for Rishi Sunak’s comments is through the looking glass.”

Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Starmer: Sunak should apologise for trans jibe

17:17 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak should apologise as “swiftly as possible” for his transgender joke, Sir Keir Starmer has said, as the Prime Minister resists a call from Brianna Ghey’s father to express regret about the remark.

The Labour leader said the PM should “do the right thing” after Peter Spooner, Brianna’s father, demanded he say sorry for the “dehumanising” and “degrading” jibe.

Mr Sunak had accused Sir Keir of being incapable of “defining a woman” in an attack on Labour U-turns in the Commons while Esther Ghey, Brianna’s mother, visited Parliament.

His comment prompted fierce criticism from across the political spectrum, with Sir Keir telling Mr Sunak: “Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber. Shame.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Labour leader said: “This is nothing to do with me. This is Brianna’s father. They’ve had their child murdered and he has put his words out about what the Prime Minister said and it’s not good enough for the Prime Minister’s team to go out today and effectively say to Brianna’s father ‘you didn’t understand what Rishi was saying’.

“He did understand. He’s given his reaction. The right thing to do is to apologise as swiftly as possible – not just reflect but apologise. This is a grieving father.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA) (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA) (PA Wire)

ICYMI: Minister rows in behind Sunak over trans jibe

16:28 , Matt Mathers

Government minister Laura Trott denied Sunak’s remarks were a “joke” and insisted they had “absolutely nothing to do with this appalling tragedy”.

The chief secretary to the Treasury told LBC: “I want to be really, really clear that this wasn’t a joke…it has absolutely nothing to do with this appalling tragedy.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insisted that the PM “could not have been clearer about the enormous respect he has for Brianna Ghey’s mother” and that his point had been about Labour “flip-flopping on important issues”.

Sunak should apologise for trans jibe, former minister suggests

16:00 , Matt Mathers

A former government minister has suggested Rishi Sunak should apologise for his trans joke.

“If it was me, I would probably pick up the phone to Brianna’s father, frankly,” Paul Scully, the former business minister, told the BBC’s Politics Live show.

Watch below:

Rishi Sunak’s Commons ‘joke’ will make life even more dangerous for trans people like me

15:30 , Matt Mathers

“Personally, as a trans journalist, I have been subjected to extreme hatred for daring to talk about the role of transphobia in Brianna’s murder,” writes Jess O’Thomson. “I have had to leave social media due to accusations that this makes me a child ‘groomer’, as well as death threats.”

Read Jess’s piece in full here:

Sunak’s Commons ‘joke’ will make life even more dangerous for trans people like me

Brianna’s mum wants to create a ‘more understanding society’ in first comments since Sunak jibe

14:59 , Matt Mathers

Brianna Ghey’s mother has said she wants to create a lasting legacy for her daughter by creating a more “understanding, peaceful, and stronger society” in her first comments since Rishi Sunak’s trans jibe at PMQs.

In a message posted on her Peace and Mind Facebook page, Esther Ghey said: “I don’t wish to comment on reports of wording or comments recently made. My focus is on creating a positive change and a lasting legacy for Brianna.

“Through Peace & Mind, we want to improve lives by empowering people, giving them the tools they need to build mental resilience, empathy, and self-compassion through mindfulness.

“In developing these skills, I hope that we can create a more understanding, peaceful, and stronger society for everyone.”

Brianna Ghey’s mother Esther Ghey has called for her daughter’s killers to never be released (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Brianna Ghey’s mother Esther Ghey has called for her daughter’s killers to never be released (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Trans football team calls for Sunak to apologise

14:45 , Matt Mathers

A trans football team has called on Rishi Sunak to apologise for his jibe in the Commons yesterday.

TRUK accused the prime minister of repeatedly using “trans people as a weapon”.

“We’re human beings, we’re part of this country, there’s plenty of trans people that live in this country and for him to keep weaponising us to get cheap laughs from his conservative crew is really wrong,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mirror.

“He wouldn’t pick on any other demographic. It’s just absolutely pathetic.”

File photo: PM speaks to a young girl while visiting a dental surgery on Thursday (PA)
File photo: PM speaks to a young girl while visiting a dental surgery on Thursday (PA)

ICYMI: Sunak ‘keen’ to meet Brianna’s family but no apology

14:16 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is “very keen” to meet murdered teenager Brianna Ghey’s family, a Government minister has said, but there is no sign of the Prime Minister heeding her father’s call for an apology over a transgender joke.

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said Mr Sunak should say sorry for the “degrading” and “dehumanising” remark made during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Sunak had accused Sir Keir Starmer of having difficulty in “defining a woman” during an attack on Labour party U-turns.

But with the mother of Brianna, who was transgender, visiting Parliament, his comment prompted fierce criticism from across the political spectrum.

Policing minister Chris Philp on Thursday defended the Prime Minister’s jibe, telling BBC Breakfast: “The Prime Minister made no reference at all to any individual trans people.

“It was Keir Starmer who introduced that. The Prime Minister was making a point about Labour’s very numerous flip-flops.”

Asked about Mr Spooner’s request for an apology, Mr Philp said he was “very sad” to hear his comments, but suggested people “should actually listen” to the exchange in the House of Commons.

Watch: Sunak refuses to apologise to Brianna Ghey's father over trans jibe at PMQs

14:01 , Matt Mathers

Sunak was not making trans joke, transgender teacher claims

13:00 , Sam Rkaina

Sunak ‘shocked’ by Brianna’s case

12:30 , Sam Rkaina

Mr Sunak said it was “sad and wrong” to link his comments at Prime Minister’s Questions to Brianna Ghey’s case.

He said: “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.”

Mordaunt says PM and Starmer should ‘reflect'

12:15 , Sam Rkaina

Penny Mordaunt has suggested Rishi Sunak should reflect on his words, following his jibe about transgender people at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Commons Leader said: “Whatever the rough and tumble of this place, whatever the pressures and mistakes that are made in the heat of political combat, we owe it to the people who sent us here to strive every day to make them proud of us and this place.

“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.

“That is not just about Mr and Mrs Ghey that he should reflect on, but I am sure he is also reflecting about people who are trans, or who have trans loved ones and family, some of whom sit on these green benches.

“I hope the leader of the Opposition will also reflect on his actions too.”

Penny Mordaunt (PA Wire)
Penny Mordaunt (PA Wire)

Sunak declines to apologise despite backlash

12:00 , Sam Rkaina

Rishi Sunak declined to apologise to Brianna Ghey’s father over his transgender joke in the Commons.

The Prime Minister insisted his comments were “absolutely legitimate” because he was pointing out Sir Keir Starmer’s U-turns.

Asked if he would apologise, he told reporters in Cornwall: “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.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is visiting Cornwall (PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is visiting Cornwall (PA) (PA Wire)

Downing Street rejects suggestion PM uses trans people as punchline

11:57 , Sam Rkaina

Downing Street rejected the suggestion the Prime Minister has repeatedly used transgender people as a punchline or a joke.

It comes as Rishi Sunak refuses to apologise to Brianna Ghey’s father after he made a transgender joke at Prime Minister’s Questions.

His official spokesman said: “I wouldn’t accept that he does that. I think, as you can see from the exchange yesterday and in previous exchanges, he’s obviously made political points in relation to the Opposition.

“The Prime Minister, more generally, has always spoken about the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

He added: “I think the Prime Minister has always been clear that everyone should be free to live happy lives, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. That’s the values that he holds, those are British values.

“He would always call on people to behave that way.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Wire)

Brianna’s headteacher was also at Commons

09:35 , Sam Rkaina

Emma Mills, Brianna Ghey’s headteacher at Birchwood High School, who accompanied Esther Ghey to Parliament on Wednesday, told BBC Breakfast: “We came in late into the gallery and missed what was said, and I don’t think she’s really had time to look at the context and what exactly was said, and she wants a little bit of time to be able to do that today.

“Yesterday, while we were there, we were just so focused on the mindfulness debate that we were going to and making sure that moves forward in a positive way. That wasn’t something we really discussed yesterday.”

Downing Street meeting with family yet to be confirmed

09:10 , Sam Rkaina

Pressed on whether he was arguing Brianna’s father had misunderstood Mr Sunak’s remark, Mr Philp said: “I have got every respect for, obviously, the views and feelings of a bereaved father.”

He said the Prime Minister “would be very happy” to meet Brianna’s family, and that Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan wanted to speak to Ms Ghey about online safety.

Ms Ghey has been invited to a meeting, though it is not yet confirmed whether or when it will take place.

Other Government ministers have also played down Mr Sunak’s language, while Downing Street has insisted it was not transphobic but part of “totally legitimate” criticism of Labour.

Minister Chris Philp said he ‘respected’ Mr Spooner’s views (PA Archive)
Minister Chris Philp said he ‘respected’ Mr Spooner’s views (PA Archive)

Sunak ‘keen’ to meet Brianna’s family but no apology

08:53 , Sam Rkaina

Rishi Sunak is “very keen” to meet murdered teenager Brianna Ghey’s family, a Government minister has said, but there is no sign of the Prime Minister heeding her father’s call for an apology over a transgender joke.

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said Mr Sunak should say sorry for the “degrading” and “dehumanising” remark made during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Sunak had accused Sir Keir Starmer of having difficulty in “defining a woman” during an attack on Labour party U-turns.

But with the mother of Brianna, who was transgender, visiting Parliament, his comment prompted fierce criticism from across the political spectrum.

Policing minister Chris Philp on Thursday defended the Prime Minister’s jibe, telling BBC Breakfast: “The Prime Minister made no reference at all to any individual trans people.

“It was Keir Starmer who introduced that. The Prime Minister was making a point about Labour’s very numerous flip-flops.”

Asked about Mr Spooner’s request for an apology, Mr Philp said he was “very sad” to hear his comments, but suggested people “should actually listen” to the exchange in the House of Commons.

ICYMI: Sunak’s trans joke is a ‘shameful new low’ - Labour MP

04:00 , Matt Mathers

A senior Labour MP has described Rishi Sunak’s trans joke as a “shameful new low”.

Anneliese Dodds, shadow women and equalities secretary, said politicians “must do better than this”.

“The prime minister should apologise immediately,” she added.

ICYMI: Starmer ‘weaponising’ trans issues - Badenonch

03:00 , Matt Mathers

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch has accussed Keir Starmer of “weaponising” trans issues and linking “his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender directly” to Brianna’s mother’s grief, Kate Devlin reports.

Ms Badenoch has inflamed the row over Rishi Sunak’s crass trans joke by blaming Keir Starmer, accusing him of “political point-scoring”.

In a post on Twitter, formerly known as X, she wrote: “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.”

She added: “As Minister for Women and Equalities I’ve done all I can to ensure we have take 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.”

Recap: Uproar over Sunak’s crass trans jibe as Brianna Ghey’s mother visits Commons

02:00 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak provoked outrage by joking about the “definition of a woman” in the Commons as the mother of murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey visited parliament.

The prime minister clashed with Keir Starmer over the continuing trans debate at PMQs as Esther Ghey was due to appear in the public gallery just four days after her 16-year-old daughter’s killers were jailed for life.

Full report:

Uproar over Rishi Sunak’s crass trans jibe as Brianna Ghey’s mother visits Commons

ICYMI: Stonewall slams Sunak over trans comments

01:00 , Matt Mathers

LGBT+ charity Stonewall called Mr Sunak’s words “cheap, callous and crass”.

A spokesperson said: “We call on the prime minister to apologise unreservedly for his comments, and for him to reflect on how careless words from those in power can and do result in harm.”

Rishi Sunak met with families of Hamas-held hostages on Tuesday (Dan Kitwood/PA) (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak met with families of Hamas-held hostages on Tuesday (Dan Kitwood/PA) (PA Wire)

ICYMI: Not the first time Sunak has attacked Labour on trans issues

00:01 , Matt Mathers

This is not the first time the prime minister has attacked Labour over the issue of gender identity policies, which have been a frequent subject of debate in Westminster in recent years.

LGBT+ campaigners have condemned some of the language used by politicians to discuss trans people, with the issue often drawn into the so-called “culture war” by right-wingers.

In his Tory conference speech last year, Mr Sunak told Conservative delegates in Manchester: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be.

“They can’t – a man is a man and a woman is a woman.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Minister rows in behind Sunak over trans jibe

Wednesday 7 February 2024 23:00 , Matt Mathers

Government minister Laura Trott denied Sunak’s remarks were a “joke” and insisted they had “absolutely nothing to do with this appalling tragedy”.

The chief secretary to the Treasury told LBC: “I want to be really, really clear that this wasn’t a joke…it has absolutely nothing to do with this appalling tragedy.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insisted that the PM “could not have been clearer about the enormous respect he has for Brianna Ghey’s mother” and that his point had been about Labour “flip-flopping on important issues”.

Brianna’s father demands apology

Wednesday 7 February 2024 22:00 , Sam Rkaina

The father of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey has demanded an apology from Rishi Sunak after he made a “dehumanising” transgender joke in the Commons while the victim’s mother visited parliament.

Peter Spooner said he was “shocked” by the jibe made during Prime Minister’s Questions, in which the PM accused Sir Keir Starmer of having difficulty in “defining a woman”.

The remarks have prompted an immediate backlash but Mr Sunak has so far refused to apologise, with Downing Street later insisting the comments were “totally legitimate” and not transphobic.

Mr Spooner told Sky News: “As the prime minister for our country to come out with degrading comments like he did, regardless of them being in relation to discussions in parliament, they are absolutely dehumanising.

“Identities of people should not be used in that manner and I personally feel shocked by his comments and feel he should apologise for his remarks.”

Sunak faces backlash for PMQs transgender ‘joke’ as Brianna Ghey’s mother sits in gallery (Reuters)
Sunak faces backlash for PMQs transgender ‘joke’ as Brianna Ghey’s mother sits in gallery (Reuters)

Crass, tactless – could Rishi Sunak’s trans blunder lose him the election?

Wednesday 7 February 2024 20:40 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister’s mockery of Keir Starmer on trans rights – when the mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey was in the Commons gallery – exposed his lack of a sixth political sense, writes John Rentoul.

Read John’s piece in full here:

Crass, tactless – could Sunak’s trans blunder lose him the election? | John Rentoul

Recap: Rishi Sunak makes trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey’s mother

Wednesday 7 February 2024 20:15 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak provoked outrage by joking about the “definition of a woman” in the Commons as the mother of murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey visited parliament.

The prime minister clashed with Keir Starmer over the continuing trans debate at PMQs as Esther Ghey was due to appear in the public gallery and just four days after her 16-year-old daughter’s killers were jailed for life.

Full report:

Rishi Sunak makes trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey’s mother

Sunak faces more calls to apologise

Wednesday 7 February 2024 19:45 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister faced further calls to apologise for his joke in the Commons, which was described as transphobic by an SNP MP.

Raising a point of order, Hannah Bardell (Livingston) said: “Thank you very much madame deputy speaker… for granting me the opportunity to raise concerns and say how horrified I was during Prime Minister’s Questions to hear the prime minister on his feet during LGBT history month, and on a day when Brianna Ghey’s mother was in parliament, to make a transphobic joke across the chamber.

“We come to this place as elected representatives to improve the condition of others, do we not? And at a time when the trans community are facing unprecedented attacks from people in this place, from people in the other place, and from the media, it is incumbent upon as all to reflect on our language, on how we approach these issues and how we talk about the trans and non-binary community.

“I think and I hope she will guide me in how we can make sure the prime minister apologises.”

Britain Politics (AP)
Britain Politics (AP)

‘Disappointing’ to hear ‘jokes’ at expense of trans community - Tory MP

Wednesday 7 February 2024 19:14 , Matt Mathers

Tory MP Dehenna Davison has said it is “disappointing” to “hear jokes being made at the trans community’s expense”.

In what would appear to be an implicit criticism of Rishi Sunak over his remarks in the Commons earlier, the Bishop Auckland MP said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Wasn’t in parliament today thanks to a migraine attack so have just caught up on PMQs.

“The debate around trans issues often gets inflamed at the fringes. As politicians, it’s our job to take the heat out of such debates and focus on finding sensible ways forward, whilst ensuring those involved are treated with respect.

“Given some of the terrible incidences of transphobia we have seen lately, this need for respect feels more crucial than ever.

“That’s why it was disappointing to hear jokes being made at the trans community’s expense. Our words in the house resonate right across our society, and we all need to remember that.”

Brianna’s father ‘disgusted’ by Sunak’s trans joke and demands apology

Wednesday 7 February 2024 18:53 , Matt Mathers

The father of murdered transgender teenager Brianna Ghey has demanded an apology from Rishi Sunak, saying he was "disgusted" with the prime minister’s comments, Kate Devlin reports.

Peter Spooner told Sky News the PM’s remarks during PMQs had been "degrading" and "absolutely dehumanising".

He said: "Identities of people should not be used in that manner, and I personally feel shocked by his comments."

Mr Spooner added that Mr Sunak "should apologise for his remarks".

Hunt denies Sunak made ‘shameful’ trans joke

Wednesday 7 February 2024 17:41 , Matt Mathers

Jeremy Hunt has denied that Rishi Sunak made a joke about trans people during Prime Minister’s Questions and appeared to suggest the prime minister would not apologise.

The chancellor accused BBC political editor Chris Mason of taking Mr Sunak’s comments “out of context” after the PM said Labour leader Keir Starmer had U-turned on “defining a woman – although in fairness, that was only 99 per cent of a U-turn”.

Mr Starmer previously said 99.9 per cent of women “haven’t got a penis”.

Mr Hunt said: “If you had listened, as I did, to what he said, he could not have been clearer in the respect he has for Brianna Ghey’s mother in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

After it was put to Mr Hunt that the PM chose to deliver a “political punchline” about trans people, and had been “questioning what is a woman and what isn’t a woman”, the chancellor said: “The point he was making in PMQs was that we have a Labour Party that cannot make its mind up about the big issues”.

When asked if the PM should apologise, Mr Hunt said: “Well he made it clear the respect he has for Brianna Ghey’s mother”. You can watch some of the exchange below:

Crass, tactless – could Rishi Sunak’s trans blunder lose him the election?

Wednesday 7 February 2024 16:58 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister’s mockery of Keir Starmer on trans rights – when the mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey was in the Commons gallery – exposed his lack of a sixth political sense, writes John Rentoul.

Read John’s piece in full here:

Crass, tactless – could Sunak’s trans blunder lose him the election? | John Rentoul

Sunak’s trans joke is a ‘shameful new low’ - Labour MP

Wednesday 7 February 2024 16:15 , Matt Mathers

A senior Labour MP has described Rishi Sunak’s trans joke as a “shameful new low”.

Anneliese Dodds, shadow women and equalities secretary, said politicians “must do better than this”.

“The prime minister should apologise immediately,” she added.

Starmer ‘weaponising’ trans issues - Badenonch

Wednesday 7 February 2024 15:40 , Matt Mathers

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch has accussed Keir Starmer of "weaponising" trans issues and linking "his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender directly” to Brianna’s mother’s grief, Kate Devlin reports.

Ms Badenoch has inflamed the row over Rishi Sunak’s crass trans joke by blaming Keir Starmer, accusing him of "political point-scoring".

In a post on Twitter, formerly known as X, she wrote: "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."

She added: "As Minister for Women and Equalities I’ve done all I can to ensure we have take 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."

Starmer meets with Brianna Ghey’s mother

Wednesday 7 February 2024 15:13 , Matt Mathers

Keir Starmer has met with Brianna Ghey’s mother in a parliament after Rishi Sunak made a “crass” joke about trans people at PMQs.

The Labour leader met with Esther Ghey in parliament during a visit in which she watched PMQs.

Mr Starmer said: “I am utterly in awe of her strength and bravery in the face of such unimaginable grief, as she campaigns to make sure no parent has to go through what she did.

“Labour will work with campaigners and parents like Esther to ensure our children and young people have the mental health support they need. It’s what Brianna and her family deserve.”

Stonewall: Sunak jibe ws ‘cheap, callous and crass’

Wednesday 7 February 2024 15:07 , Matt Mathers

Stonewall’s spokesperson said: "For the prime minister to use trans people as a punchline, in front of the grieving mother of a murdered trans child, was cheap, callous and crass.

“The disrespect and dehumanisation of trans people that we see played out daily in the media and in our political discourse has real life consequences and it has to stop.

“We call on the prime minister to apologise unreservedly for his comments, and for him to reflect on how careless words from those in power can and do result in harm’’

Not the first time Sunak attacks Labour leader on trans issues

Wednesday 7 February 2024 14:29 , Matt Mathers

This is not the first time the prime minister has attacked Labour over the issue of gender identity policies, which have been a frequent subject of debate in Westminster in recent years.

LGBT campaigners have condemned some of the language used by politicians to discuss transgender people, with the issue often drawn into the so-called “culture war” by right-wingers.

In his Tory conference speech last year, Mr Sunak told Conservative delegates in Manchester “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be.

“They can’t – a man is a man and a woman is a woman.”

A Labour spokeswoman called on Mr Sunak to apologise.

“We don’t think the country wants or deserves a prime minister that is happy to use minorities as a punchbag,” she said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was criticised during PMQs (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was criticised during PMQs (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)

MP urges Sunak to apologise

Wednesday 7 February 2024 14:10 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister also faced calls to apologise from Labour MP Liz Twist during the session but he did not directly respond to her call.

Concluding Prime Minister’s Questions, the PM said: “If I could just say also to Brianna Ghey’s mother who is here, as I said earlier this week, what happened was an unspeakable and shocking tragedy.

“As I said earlier this week, in the face of that, for her mother to demonstrate the compassion and empathy that she did last weekend, I thought demonstrated the very best of humanity in the face of seeing the very worst of humanity.

“She deserves all our admiration and praise for that.”

Sunak doubles down on trans joke - ‘totally legitimate’

Wednesday 7 February 2024 14:03 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has refused to apologise for making a transgender joke in the Commons while the mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey was watching from the gallery, as Number 10 called the jibe at Labour “totally legitimate”.

Number 10 declined repeatedly to apologise for Mr Sunak’s language and said it was part of a “legitimate” criticism of Labour.

Full report:

Sunak transgender jibe ‘totally legitimate’, says No10 amid backlash

Watch: Sunak makes trans jibe at PMQs

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:56 , Matt Mathers

Sunak branded an ‘absolute disgrace'

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:53 , Matt Mathers

Senior Labour MP Jess Phillips has branded Rishi Sunak an “absolute disgrace” for making a jibe about trans people at PMQs.

She went on to describe the PM as a “deplorable man with no heart, no sense, no clue.”

“The sooner we are rid the better,” she added.

Sunak jibe came days before anniversary of Brianna’s death

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:51 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak’s joke about trans people came just days before the first anniversary of Brianna’s murder.

The 16-year-old was lured to Culcheth Linear Park, Warrington on 11 February last year and stabbed repeatedly by Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, who were jailed for life last week after being found guilty of murder.

Jenkinson was sentenced to a minimum term of 22 years imprisonment while Ratcliffe got a minimum term of 20 years imprisonment.

Briann Ghey
Briann Ghey
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe (Cheshire Constabulary/PA) (PA Media)
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe (Cheshire Constabulary/PA) (PA Media)

In full: Rishi Sunak makes trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey’s mother

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:46 , Matt Mathers

The tone deaf remarks were in reference to Mr Starmer’s previous comments that “99.9 per cent of women do not have penises,” a comment that itself drew criticism.

Mr Starmer replied: “Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber. Shame.”

The Labour leader added that the PM was “parading as a man of integrity when he has got absolutely no responsibility”, while shouts of shame ran up from the backbenches.

Full report:

Rishi Sunak makes trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey’s mother

Wednesday 7 February 2024 13:44 , Matt Mathers

Good afternoon and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage.

Rishi Sunak is facing a backlash after making a joke about trans people at PMQs.

We’ll bring you all the latest updates on this story and others from Westminster and elsewhere throughout the afternoon.