Rishi Sunak has again refused to apologise for comments he made about transgender people in parliament this week, despite calls from Brianna Ghey’s father to do so.
Mr Sunak rejected suggestions he made a joke during Prime Minister’s Questions when Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, was in parliament.
“That is not what I did, it is wrong to say that,” he told BBC Radio Somerset on Friday.
“What happened was a tragedy, and using that to try and detract from the completely separate and very clear point I was making about Keir Starmer and his proven track record of U-turning on multiple policy issues because he doesn’t have a plan is, as I said, both sad and wrong and the worst of politics.”
Rishi Sunak dismisses ‘clearly ridiculous’ Vladimir Putin claim
Mr Sunak has faced criticism for the comments he levelled at Sir Keir Starmer, in which he said the Labour leader had broken promises on “defining a woman”.
The exchange happened while Ms Ghey was in parliament just a week after two teenagers were sentenced for the murder of Brianna, who was transgender.
In an interview with Sky News, Brianna’s father Peter Spooner said Mr Sunak’s remarks during PMQs were “degrading” and “absolutely dehumanising” and urged him to apologise.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Spooner was also joined by former prime minister Gordon Brown in calling for Mr Sunak to apologise.
He told the Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge: “Prime ministers make mistakes. I don’t think you can say that every prime minister will fail to make some mistakes, but I think you should apologise if you get things wrong.
“And I mean it is a very sad and really tragic – a tragic case of a family in grief.
“I know he’s said he’s compassionate about the family, but perhaps he should do what I had to do on one or two occasions and apologise. And I do accept that if you make mistakes, you’ve got to correct them quickly.”
Mr Sunak has so far resisted calls to apologise and has been defended by some Cabinet ministers, including Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who said it was “shameful of Starmer to link his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender directly to her grief”.
Elsewhere in the BBC Radio Somerset interview, the prime minister turned his answers to Labour’s decision to scrap its £28bn green spending pledge as “yet another U-turn”.
But when BBC presenter Charlie Taylor interjected on whether he would apologise, Mr Sunak declined to do so, saying: “To drag someone’s family in the face of a tragedy into politics like this, I don’t think is right. I think it’s sad and it’s wrong.”
However, policing minister Chris Philp told Sky News yesterday there was 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”.