THE story about Angela Rayner allegedly attempting to put off Boris Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs is shocking and offensive on so many levels.

In this day and age, women should not have to put up with comments, judgements and inuendoes being made about their personal appearance. This takes us back to the dark days of Page 3 when women were presented as being nothing more than a pleasant distraction for some men. This is an appalling turning back of the clock.

It is also demeaning to Mr Johnson. Whatever you think of him, there is no evidence that he is so superficial and lacking in self control that he might be so easily distracted.

It is shocking that some unnamed MPs have so little to occupy their thoughts that they had time to dream up this scenario, or “perverted smear”, as Ms Rayner called it. It is even more shocking that they think there is political gain to be had from broadcasting it.

And it is just as shocking that a newspaper should present it as a quirky news story. Surely papers have gone beyond the days of the 1960s when titillation and rank sexism sold copies. Surely political correspondents should be calling out such views rather than promoting them with a nudge and giggle.

The journalist and his editor are going to have to explain themselves to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and Mr Johnson has promised to unleash the “terrors of the earth” on whichever of his MPs made the claims.

The main point, though, is that we have a House of Commons which is riddled with sexism, and that we are still governed by a bunch of backwoodsmen.