Rishi Sunak has invited Brianna’s mother for talks as a row rages over his swipe at Keir Starmer’s trans views while she was watching PMQs.
The premier has dismissed pressure to say sorry after he ridiculed the Labour leader’s claim that some women have penises, moments after being told that Esther Ghey was watching the session from the gallery.
Some Tories have also gone on the attack against Sir Keir, accusing him of using the family of the murdered trans teenager for ‘political point scoring’.
But other Conservatives have voiced discomfort at the tone of the exchanges.
Brianna’s father Peter Spooner demanded an apology over the ‘degrading’ comments last night, and friends of Mrs Ghey have said she is thinking about what was said.
In a round of interviews this morning, policing minister Chris Philp said Mr Sunak was keen to meet the family, although nothing has been confirmed.
The premier jibed about the Labour leader’s view that not all women have penises as they clashed in the Commons
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were both 15 when they killed Brianna, 16, with a hunting knife after luring her to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on February 11 last year.
Sir Keir Starmer met Esther Ghey later in the Commons
Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch – the favourite to become the next Tory leader – weighed in to defend the PM
Mr Philp told 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.
Pressed on whether he was arguing that 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 PM would have more to say on the issue later.
Asked if that meant Mr Sunak would be apologising, the Home Office minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘No, I’m not saying that… he will be saying more about this later.’
Mr Philp 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 has not yet been confirmed whether or when it will take place.
Emma Mills, Brianna’s headteacher at Birchwood High School, who accompanied Mrs 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.’
During the PMQs exchanges, Sir Keir noted that Esther Ghey was watching the session, as he paid tribute after her daughter’s killers were jailed for a crime that a court heard was partly fuelled by transphobia.
Seconds later Mr Sunak jibed about the Labour leader’s view that not all women have penises – a common attack he has used in previous sessions of the Wednesday showpiece.
Although Ms Ghey had not yet taken her seat in the public gallery, Sir Keir hit back, 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.’
Mr Spooner told Sky News last night: ‘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.’
As the row over Mr Sunak’s comments spilled out in the hours after PMQs, No10 refused six times to apologise for the remarks, before Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch – the favourite to become the next Tory leader – weighed in to defend the PM.
‘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,’ the women and equalities minister wrote on the X social media site.
‘It was shameful of Starmer to link his own inability to be clear on the matter of sex and gender directly to her grief.
‘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.’
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also defended the PM, telling the BBC he had been making a point ‘that we have a Labour party that cannot make their mind up about big issues of the day’.
Brianna’s father Peter Spooner demanded an apology over the ‘degrading’ comments last night
But Tory former minister Dehenna Davison said it was ‘disappointing’ to ‘hear jokes being made at the trans community’s expense’.
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.’