Labour's Deputy Leader said she had reflected on her language during a recent period of bereavement leave after losing a close loved one.

Ms Rayner said she "unreservedly apologised" for her remarks and she would be more careful about the language she uses in future.

In the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess, which police are treating as a terrorist incident, Ms Rayner said she had thought hard about the "threats and abuse" that feature in political life.

In a statement shared with the Mirror, she said: "I was angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent.

"But I would like to unreservedly apologise for the language I used, and I would not use it again.

"I will continue to speak my mind, stand up for Labour values and hold the government to account. But in the future I will be more careful about how I do that and in the language that I choose.

Angela Rayner's full statement is at the bottom of this article

Angela Rayner, speaking at the Labour party conference in Brighton in September (

Image:

Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

"All of us in positions of leadership have a responsibility for our language and rhetoric, whether towards political opponents or anyone else in society, especially those already most vulnerable.

"As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party I take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and I am sure that politicians from all parties, the media and others with a prominent role in our public life will also reflect on this shared responsibility."

In an informal speech, she joked about the quality of food at conference and slapped down a heckler who apparently urged her to challenge Keir Starmer, saying: "You've had all the wine that I haven't had mate!"

She told members "we're at a cross roads" like in 1945, saying: "We face a global threat again. Many of our comrades haven't made it.

"Everyone in this room will know somebody who's been seriously ill or died from Covid. We've been through so much and deserve so much better than what we've got."

She added: "I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines and I bet youse lot are as well.

"We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile [inaudible] Banana Republic, vile, nasty, Etonian [inaudible] piece of scum.”

Ms Rayner originally stood by her remarks despite furious demands from Tory MPs for an apology. Keir Starmer distanced himself from the remarks, saying he would "not have used" them.

Asked if she was talking about Tories in general, Ms Rayner said last month: "No, let me be clear, I am talking about members of the Cabinet."

She told Sky News last month: "I am not saying that anyone who voted for the Conservatives are racist, scummy and homophobic… I’m saying the Prime Minister has said those things and acted in that way.

In a 1995 Spectator column, Mr Johnson described children of single mothers as "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.

"They have had a devastating impact on me, my children and others close to me," she said.

"It shakes you when you get these threats. You worry about the safety of your home, your office and everything in your life. And it takes its toll on the people who work for me too."

She said her staff should not be required to deal with death threats on a day-to-day basis.

Two men have been arrested since yesterday in South Yorkshire and Halifax as part of a police investigation into “threatening and abusive phone calls, emails and letters” to Ms Rayner.

It is understood further enquiries are still ongoing across multiple police forces.

A third man, Benjamin Iliffe, 36, of Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, today pleaded guilty to sending a threatening email to Ms Rayner, and also pleaded guilty to possessing a quantity of cannabis on Wednesday when he was arrested.

The former delivery driver warned Ms Rayner to "watch your back and your kids" and said "I already found your personal home address" in the threatening email on October 16, Huntingdon Magistrates' Court heard.

Iliffe was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months. A probation officer told the court Iliffe had felt Ms Rayner was "partially responsible for the attack" on Sir David "following her use of language".

He was later "apologetic and remorseful" for sending the threatening e-mail, the court heard.

Angela Rayner's statement in full

I have been off work over the last couple of weeks after losing a close loved one. Grief is the burden we bear for love and losing someone close is something that we all experience at some point in our lives, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to you. So I can’t imagine what the family of Sir David Amess are going through, but I know they will be hurting. I send my heartfelt condolences to them. Sir David was a fine parliamentarian, a proud advocate for his constituents and above all such a kind, generous and warm-hearted man. He will be missed on all sides of the House.

As a society we need to offer better support to people who are going through bereavement, loss and other traumatic or difficult experiences in their personal lives. I hope that the fact that I took time to deal with a bereavement will encourage other people to do the same when they are going through grief or trauma.

While I have been away from the cut and thrust of Parliament I have reflected on our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often.

I have also reflected on what I said at an event at Labour Party conference. I was angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent. But I would like to unreservedly apologise for the language I used, and I would not use it again.

I will continue to speak my mind, stand up for Labour values and hold the government to account. But in the future I will be more careful about how I do that and in the language that I choose.

All of us in positions of leadership have a responsibility for our language and rhetoric, whether towards political opponents or anyone else in society, especially those already most vulnerable. As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party I take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and I am sure that politicians from all parties, the media and others with a prominent role in our public life will also reflect on this shared responsibility.

I want to address the threats I have received recently. In the past I have been reluctant to speak out about the abuse that I receive because I fear that doing so will only make the situation worse. However, in recent weeks the threats that I have received against my life and the lives of close family have been so terrifying and explicit that I could not stay silent and simply continue to take it as ‘part of the job’. They have had a devastating impact on me, my children and others close to me.

It shakes you when you get these threats. You worry about the safety of your home, your office and everything in your life. And it takes its toll on the people who work for me too.

My staff come to work and do their jobs with dedication and professionalism. They bear the brunt of much of this abuse and then get on with their working day. Dealing with death threats and liaising with the police about their safety should not be a standard part of the day-to-day working life of a Member of Parliament or their staff.

So I want to thank the police officers from Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire Police who have arrested a number of people in recent days and demonstrated the utmost professionalism, courtesy and kindness both in carrying out their investigations and in supporting me, my family and my staff during what has been a very difficult time. I and my team will continue work with them to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice

After attending a funeral on Monday I will be back to work, rolling my sleeves up and standing up for my brilliant constituents in Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Failsworth – along with everyone who needs a Labour government.

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