Angela Rayner was tonight facing fresh pressure to apologise for her ‘Tory scum’ comments at the Labour party conference in the wake of Conservative MP Sir David Amess’ murder.
Sir David, 69, was brutally stabbed to death in front of horrified onlookers at his constituency surgery in Southend, Essex, earlier today.
Tributes from across the House of Commons have since flooded in for the veteran politician, including from Labour’s deputy leader, Mrs Rayner, herself.
She tweeted: ‘I’m horrified by the reports regarding David Amess and an incident at his constituency surgery today.
‘We don’t know the details yet but on behalf of all of us in the Labour Party I want to say all of our thoughts are with David and we all hope that he pulls through and is ok.’
However, both her name and the phrase ‘Tory scum’, which she used in front of Labour supporters last month, was trending on Twitter this evening, as many called on her to retract the statement.
Among those to comment was barrister and presenter Rob Rinder, who told listeners on his Talk Radio show: ‘Tory Scum is trending on Twitter. At the same time, women MPs will face daily rape and death threats.
‘Listeners, this has to end. Today it has ended in the death of one of our best MPs.’
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner used the term ‘Tory scum’ while giving a speech at the party’s annual conference last month
Police outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North in Essex where Tory MP Sir David Amess was killed today
Sir David Amess was stabbed ‘several times’ by an attacker in his constituency earlier today
In a late-night rant at the Labour conference last month, Mrs Rayner said she was ‘sick of shouting from the sidelines’ at ‘a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile of… banana republic… Etonian… piece of scum’.
The 41-year-old former care worker then doubled down on her claims, singling out Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and other members of the Cabinet who have ‘said appalling things’.
A defiant Mrs Rayner said her ‘post-watershed’ comments were designed to put ‘fire in the belly’ of party activists during a conference reception.
She claimed that her language was the kind ‘you would hear very often in northern working-class towns, we even say it jovially to other people, we say ‘it’s a scummy thing to do’ and that to me is my street language’.
And she told Sky News she would not apologise unless the Prime Minister first said sorry for ‘comments he has made that are homophobic, racist and misogynistic’.
Sir David – who won at the last general election with a margin of 14,000 votes – was knifed ‘multiple times’ by a 25-year-old killer around midday.
His attacker sprinted into the church and stabbed him to death during his weekly surgery as constituents watched in horror.
The Tory MP for Southend West, 69, was meeting locals at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, when it happened just at 12.05pm.
Paramedics worked to save the politician on the floor of the Essex church for more than an hour but he could not be saved after the appalling attack.
The murder bore chilling similarities to the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed multiple times outside her constituency surgery at a local library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June 2016 by a right-wing terrorist.
Tonight her sister, Kim Leadbeater, who has since been elected as a Labour MP to Jo’s former Batley and Spen seat, said she felt ‘frightened’ by the attack and that her partner has asked her to step down in the wake of Sir David’s death.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all our hearts are filled with ‘shock’ and ‘sadness’, as he reacted to the loss of the stalwart Conservative MP.
Returning to Downing Street to address the shocking news after a Cabinet away-day in Bristol, the PM said: ‘All our hears are full of shock and sadness.
‘The reason people are so shocked and sad is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable.’
Sir David, a married father-of-five whose wife Julia is also his part-time caseworker, is the sixth MP to be murdered. It is not know if Mrs Amess was at the church when her husband was murdered.
Horrified constituents waiting to see the veteran MP, an ardent Brexiteer and royalist, watched in horror as the knifeman stabbed him, calling the police at 12.05pm. Police confirmed Sir David’s death at around 3pm.
Counter-terrorism officers and armed units are at the scene. It is believed officers from the UK’s counter-terrorism unit are due to take over the investigation, it has tonight been reported.
One woman ran out of the church in the chaos yelling down the phone after dialling 999, telling the call handler: ‘Someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing’.
Essex Police held the attacker at the scene and seized a weapon. He is now in custody and arrested on suspicion of murder.