Rishi Sunak refuses to apologise for trans jibe despite plea from Brianna Ghey’s father

Rishi Sunak has refused to apologise for making a trans jibe in Prime Minister’s Questions despite being asked to do so by the father of murdered trans teen Brianna Ghey.

The prime minister quipped about trans issues during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (7 February), despite having been told that Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, was in the public gallery. In arguing that Keir Starmer had broken “every single promise he was elected on,” he joked that the opposition leader had also changed his position on “defining a woman”.

Starmer lambasted Sunak in his reply, saying: “Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber. Shame.” He added that Sunak was “parading as a man of integrity when he’s got absolutely no responsibility.”

Brianna Ghey’s father, Peter Spooner, later called on Sunak to apologise for the “degrading” and dehumanising” remark – a request the prime minister has so far refused.

Labour leader Keir Starmer (left) and prime minister Rishi Sunak (right) during the Prime Minster's Questions exchange where Sunak make a trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey's mother
Labour leader Keir Starmer (left) and prime minister Rishi Sunak (right) during the Prime Minster’s Questions. (BBC)

“As the prime minister for our country to come out with degrading comments like he did, regardless of them being in relation to discussions in parliament, they are absolutely dehumanising,” Spooner told Sky News.

“Identities of people should not be used in that manner, and I feel shocked by his comments. He should apologise.”

However, rather than issuing an apology, Sunak claimed that Starmer was using Brianna’s case to “detract [from his] “track record” of “multiple U-turns”, on Thursday (8 January).

“Like everyone, I was completely shocked by Brianna’s case,” he told Sky News. “To have your child taken from you in such awful circumstances is almost impossible to come to terms with, and for Brianna’s mum to talk with such empathy and compassion about that was inspiring and it showed the very best of humanity.

“But to use that tragedy to detract from the very separate and clear point I was making about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of multiple U-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan, I think is both sad and wrong.”

Pressed on whether he would honour the apology that Brianna’s father had asked for, Sunak doubled down on the fact that he had been referring to the leader of the opposition’s record, rather than Brianna’s case.

“That is an absolutely legitimate thing to point out and it demonstrates that he doesn’t have a plan for the country,” Sunak added.

Sunak’s refusal to apologise has been slammed by critics, including journalist Owen Jones, who wrote on X/Twitter: “Other than refusing to apologise, what on Earth is he doing smiling while talking about the murder of a teenage girl? Rishi Sunak seems to be completely devoid of even the basic building blocks of emotional intelligence.”

Brianna Ghey (left) with her mum Esther Ghey (right)
Brianna Ghey (left) with her mum Esther Ghey (right) (Esther Ghey)

And Reverend Richard Coles wrote: “Quite wince-making to watch Rishi Sunak’s authority collapse. When it goes, it goes, and whatever is said or done compounds it. May election, I guess, with three months for damage limitation. But the damage limitation has the opposite effect.”

Brianna was lured to a park in Cheshire and murdered 12 months ago. Last Friday, Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, who were 15 at the time of the offence but both now 16, were jailed for at least 22 and 20 years respectively.

Ratcliffe was found to have been partly motivated by hostility to Brianna’s transgender identity.

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