An unnamed Tory MP allegedly briefed the story that Labour’s deputy leader attempts to put off Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions in a parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone’s infamous Basic Instinct scene.
Armed forces minister James Heappey asked: “What planet are they on?”
“The whole thing is ridiculous and offensive,” he told the BBC.
“I’m sorry to Ange. I’m sorry to our female colleagues. I hope that whoever this idiot of an MP is that gave this quote reflects.
“They don’t speak for me, they don’t speak for the Conservative Party and frankly they don’t speak for anyone in Parliament.”
The story in the Mail on Sunday quoted an MP as saying Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks”.
Ministers and Conservative whips have said that if the MP is found they will face discipline.
Ms Rayner called the story “desperate” and “perverted” and Mr Johnson has written to her to insist the claims were not in his name.
Commons leader Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced on Monday that the editor who signed off the story for publication would be hauled into Parliament to explain the decision.
“If the Speaker is going to put a shot across the bows about the way women in Parliament are being reported, that’s a good thing,” Mr Heappey added.
“I have no doubt he is protecting freedom of speech and he won’t want to see that impinged, but I do think that Westminster has got itself into a mess and it looks awful.”
Mother of the House Harriet Harman said Ms Rayner had correctly dismissed the story as “misogyny”.
She suggested Conservatives feel threatened by Ms Rayner and her ability to hold the prime minister to account.
“The story is that there is misogyny alive and well and stalking the corridors of the House of Commons,” Ms Harman told LBC.
She added: “How do they go at her, they don’t have a go at her argument, they make the most ridiculous – well not ridiculous because that trivialises it – it’s sordid sexual allegations and they picked on the wrong woman.
“She’s not going to put up with it and we’re all backing her up.”