Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, has declined to issue an apology to the family of Brianna Ghey, a murdered transgender teenager, following a controversial joke he made about transgender people while her mother was present in Parliament.
Sunak defended the remark, asserting its legitimacy as a critique of Sir Keir Starmer’s alleged indecisiveness, and condemned attempts to link his comments to Brianna. He stated, “If you look at what I said, I was very clear, talking about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of u-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan.”
Despite calls for an apology from Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, Sunak maintained that critics were misinterpreting his comments to deflect from his original point. He emphasized that his intention was to highlight Starmer’s policy inconsistencies, particularly regarding the withdrawal of a £28bn green energy commitment.
In an effort to address the controversy, Sunak extended an invitation to Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, for a meeting at Downing Street to discuss online safety, a cause she is actively campaigning for.
The Prime Minister’s remarks sparked immediate backlash, with Sir Keir condemning the timing of the comment while Brianna’s mother was present in the chamber. However, several ministers, including Kemi Badenoch and Jeremy Hunt, rallied behind Sunak, accusing Starmer of politicizing Brianna’s murder.
As the controversy unfolded, Laura Trott, Treasury chief secretary, denied characterizing Sunak’s remarks as a joke, asserting they were unrelated to Brianna’s tragic death. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing Sunak’s respect for Brianna’s mother while defending his critique of Labour’s policy shifts.
The incident represents a recent string of missteps for the Prime Minister, including a contentious bet with Piers Morgan and an awkward exchange with a mother regarding NHS waiting lists.
Brianna Ghey’s murder, perpetrated by teenagers Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, was described by the judge as both sadistic and transphobic. Despite ongoing criticism, Sunak’s spokesman reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s views on gender identity, stating, “a man is a man and a woman is a woman,”.