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by Staff reporter
07 February 2024
Sturgeon and Greens slam Sunak over trans jibe to Starmer

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a trans jibe at Labour leader Keir Starmer during PMQs | Alamy

Sturgeon and Greens slam Sunak over trans jibe to Starmer

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined the chorus of voices criticising Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for making a trans jibe at Labour leader Keir Starmer during today’s session of PMQs.

In an attack on Starmer, Sunak reeled off what he claimed was a list of U-turns, saying the opposition leader had changed his position on "defining a woman - although in fairness, that was only 99 per cent of a U-turn".

Last year Starmer, who had previously held the position that trans women are women, said in an interview that "99.9 per cent of women haven't got a penis".

In a furious response, Starmer indicated the insensitivity of the jibe given that Esther Ghey, whose 16-year-old trans daughter Brianna was murdered last year, was in the chamber.

"Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna's mother is in this chamber. Shame,” he said. "Parading as a man of integrity when he's got absolutely no responsibility."

Labour MP Liz Twist called for Sunak to "apologise to Brianna Ghey's mother".

Taking to social media platform X, Sturgeon, who has long positioned herself as a trans ally and pushed through the controversial Gender Recognition Reform Act during her time in office, said the exchange was “truly terrible from Sunak”.

“But let’s not kid ourselves – had Brianna’s mum not been there today, no one (including Keir Starmer) would have batted an eyelid,” she wrote.

“It’s not good enough to stand against transphobia only when the mother of a murdered trans girl might be listening. It needs to be done all of the time.”

The SNP’s government partners the Scottish Greens, who were strong advocates of the gender reforms, agreed.

The party’s equalities spokesperson Maggie Chapman called Sunak’s comment “just horrific” and accused the Prime Minister of “treating the rights and lives of trans people as a punchline”.

“These are disgraceful comments that would have been totally inappropriate at any time, but to say it today of all days and double down on it has shown a totally callous disregard for the impact of his words,” she said.

“Across the country there are trans people who are hurting, and who are feeling anxious and scared, and the most powerful politician in the UK is treating their lives and their wellbeing as a punchline. 

“The Prime Minister should of course apologise, but more than that, he should consider his own role, and that of his government, in whipping up an anti-trans culture war which fuels the kind of bigotry and hate crimes that are so prevalent.”

At the end of the session the Prime Minister said Brianna’s mother, who has offered to meet the mother of her daughter’s killer, represents "the very best of humanity" for the "compassion" she has shown.

Ghey was in the Houses of Parliament to attend a debate on mindfulness in schools, organised by her local MP Charlotte Nichols.

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