Penny Mordaunt is targeting Sunak over the cross

The big dream is taking on Rishi Sunak over his controversial trans joke, with senior minister Penny Mordaunt taking aim at the Prime Minister.

His jibe about transgender people, made during PMQs and the murder of the mother of transgender teenager Brianna Ghey while visiting parliament, has been criticized across the political spectrum.

And, because Mr. Sunak refused to apologize to Brianna’s family for the comments, Ms. Mordaunt made a major intervention in the series.

The leader of the House of Commons, who could succeed Mr Sunak as party leader, called on the Prime Minister to “show off” his cross jibe.

Penny Mordaunt took aim at the Chief Executive over her controversial trans joke (PA)

Penny Mordaunt took aim at the Chief Executive over her controversial trans joke (PA)

Her provocative words contradicted a bid by other ministers to rally around Mr Sunak as the fury surrounding the remarks refused to die down.

Another day after Mr. Sunak’s comment “how to define a woman” came out:

  • The prime minister invited Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, to Downing Street to discuss online safety

  • He again refused to apologize for the joke, saying it was “sad and wrong” that the Labor leader linked his comments to Brianna

  • A minister appeared to suggest that Brianna’s father should “really listen” to what the Prime Minister had to say

  • Ms Ghey broke her silence, stressing that “her focus is on positive change and creating a lasting legacy for Brianna”

  • Gordon Brown weighed in, saying he acted when he once referred to a voter as a bigot, adding: “I made mistakes… but I apologized and I think that’s a lesson every prime minister should learn continue”

The row erupted on Wednesday when Mr Sunak accused Sir Keir in the Commons of being unable to “define a woman” and said it was one of the many issues on which he changed his mind.

The angry Labor leader immediately acknowledged the Tory leader. He said: “With all the weeks to say, when Brianna’s mother is in this room. Shame.”

Former Tory minister Dehenna Davison said she was “disappointed to hear jokes being made at the expense of the trans community”, while Labour’s Jess Phillips said the prime minister was “an absolute disgrace”.

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, demanded an apology, saying he was embarrassed by Mr Sunak, before declaring the comments “degrading” and “absolutely dehumanizing”.

But Mr Sunak doubled down on Thursday, telling reporters: “If you look at what I said, I was very clear, talking about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of U-turning on major policies because doesn’t have a plan.”

Mr Sunak said Sir Keir’s plan to pledge a flagship £28bn a year on green energy illustrated the point he was making.

Also rushing to defend the Prime Minister, police minister Chris Philp said he had made “no reference at all to any transgender people”.

Mr Philp accused Sir Keir of making the connection with Brianna and said “anyone interested in this issue should listen to the clip; listen to the opening exchange”.

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch, who also oversees the government’s equality policy, went further, accusing the Labor leader of “highlighting” Brianna’s murder “by political scoring”.

And she backed the Prime Minister’s comments, saying: “Starmer’s own inability to be clear about directly linking sex and gender to his grief was shameful.”

But in a break from her colleagues, Mr Mordaunt told the House of Commons: “However rough this place may be, whatever the pressure and promises made during the political struggle, we owe it to the people who send. We do our best every day to make them proud of us and of this place.

“The prime minister is a good and caring man. I’m sure he’s thought about things… it’s not just Mr. and Mrs. Ghey that he should be thinking about, but I’m sure he’s also thinking about trans people or trans people, some of them . who sit on these green benches.”

Sir Keir insisted Mr Sunak should apologize and denied using the gaffe to score political points: “The idea that I am responsible for Rishi’s comments at PMQs is through the glass. I mentioned Brianna at the beginning, because I wanted everyone to know that she, Esther, was there.

“I didn’t think the prime minister would go near traffic like that knowing she was there. I really didn’t.”

Responding on her Peace & Mind UK Facebook page, Miss Ghey said her focus was on “creating 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, compassion and self-compassion through mindfulness,” she said.

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

When asked if Ms Ghey would meet the Prime Minister, her spokesperson said The Independent: “Nothing has been decided yet, but Esther would be open to meeting with all relevant senior government officials to help push for mental changes in schools and mobile phone protection for children.”

Brianna was killed by teenagers Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe in a field in Cheshire last February.

During their sentencing earlier this month, the judge said elements of Jenkinson’s sadism and Ratcliffe’s transphobic hatred in the murder were “extremely brutal”.

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