The UK’s deputy prime minister Dominic Raab yesterday winked at opposition politician Angela Rayner in the House of Commons, before suggesting the Labour deputy leader was a “champagne socialist” because she attended an opera event.
The moment came after Ms Rayner had quoted Mr Raab’s past view – that people who use food banks “simply have a cash-flow problem”.
She added: “He doesn’t. He spent over £1m in nine months on private jets, it shows how out of touch this government is.
“At this rate, by 2030 a million more people will be using food banks. How many more working people will be pushed into poverty by his prime minister, before he says enough is enough?”
Mr Raab replied: “If she wants to help working people, they should be clear in standing up against these militant, reckless strikes.”
He then winked, before adding: “She talks about working people. Where was she when the comrades were on the picket line last Thursday?
“She was at the Glyndebourne music festival sipping champagne, listening to opera. Champagne socialism is back in the Labour Party.”
The deputy prime minister’s actions were labelled “bizarre”, with one Labour MP tweeting: “I will never unsee Dominic Raab’s wink from the despatch box. I feel soiled.”
Ms Rayner replied on Twitter: “Imagine how I feel!”
In the Commons, Ms Rayner replied: “That says a lot about the party opposite. I’ll tell him a few things about militancy – it’s this government that are acting in a militant way.”
Downing Street later insisted that Boris Johnson wants “everybody” to enjoy arts and culture after Mr Raab’s jibe at Ms Rayner for attending the opera.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister is clear that everybody should be able to enjoy arts and culture, and other such things across the UK.”
Elsewhere in their exchanges, Ms Rayner lampooned Mr Raab for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis last summer as the Taliban swept to power.
She said: “Talking about Nato, where was the honourable member during the situation in Afghanistan? On a sun lounger, that’s where. I’ll take no lectures from the honourable member when it comes to doing your job.”