Rishi Sunak is continuing to resist calls to apologise for his transgender joke in the Commons this week, after he was grilled on the row during an appearance on local radio.
The Prime Minister, who is visiting constituencies in the South West, was repeatedly pressed on whether he would say sorry to Brianna Ghey’s father and her family after Peter Spooner called the jibe “dehumanising” and “degrading”.
Mr Sunak had accused Sir Keir Starmer of being incapable of “defining a woman” in an attack on Labour U-turns in the Commons, while Esther Ghey, Brianna’s mother, visited Parliament.
The comments sparked widespread criticism, with some Tory MPs also conceding that the Prime Minister had made a mistake in his remarks.
Mr Sunak rejected the idea he had been making a joke during an interview on BBC Radio Somerset, as he sought to blame Sir Keir instead.
“That is not what I did, it is wrong to say that,” he told the station.
“What happened was a tragedy and using that to try and detract from the completely separate and very clear point I was making about Keir Starmer and his proven track record of U-turning on multiple policy issues because he doesn’t have a plan.”
He added: “To drag someone’s family in the face of tragedy into politics like this, I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s sad and it’s wrong.”
Sir Keir had on Thursday rejected suggestions from Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch that he was the one trying to “weaponise” the exchange during Prime Minister’s Questions.
“She’s completely and utterly wrong. The idea that I’m responsible for Rishi Sunak’s comments is through the looking glass,” the Labour leader told reporters.