The claims were also condemned by ministers. Mr Johnson’s message was retweeted by Simon Clarke, Treasury minister, and Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary, posted the same tweet.
Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, said: “If an MP or MPs really said this then it’s utterly shameful. No woman in politics should have to put up with this.”
And Conor Burns, Northern Ireland minister, tweeted that the “poisonous” story was “typical of the baseless stories planted by drunk nonentities puffing up their egos on the terrace.”
Tory sources suggested MPs had been made aware the claims were not acceptable and warned not to repeat them.
“All MPs should be reminded by this sorry saga of the standards expected of them,” a source close to the whips’ office told The Telegraph.
“We hope the outrage that quite rightly has come from this wholly misogynistic briefing will act as a lesson and a reminder to colleagues that this isn’t the 1950s.”
‘Targeted for being a woman’
Another source in Conservative Campaign Headquarters added that “a lot of our MPs, both male and female, would not subscribe to these outdated views”, while Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party chairman, told Sky News it was a “totally ludicrous story that I don’t recognise in any way at all”.
Other Tories to condemn the remarks included Andrea Leadsom, the former leader of the Commons, who said she agreed with Ms Rayner’s assessment that she had been targeted for being a woman. “Really sorry Angela. Totally unacceptable comments.”
Ms Rayner’s spokesman denied the story on Saturday night, and the deputy leader herself issued a statement on Sunday morning after its publication.
“Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day – and I’m no different,” she said.
“I stand accused of a ‘ploy’ to ‘distract’ the helpless PM – by being a woman, having legs and wearing clothes.
“Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders have resorted to spreading desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin. They know exactly what they are doing. The lies they are telling.”
She added: “I hope this experience doesn’t put off a single person like me, with a background like mine, from aspiring to participate in public life.”
The story was originally published by The Mail on Sunday, which reported a Conservative MP’s suggestion that Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks” and claim she had “admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace”.
On Sunday, Caroline Nokes, the Tory chairman of Parliament’s women and equalities committee, revealed she had written to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, to suggest the journalist who wrote the story be formally censured.
She told LBC the newspaper had a “long track record of reporting misogynistic stories about female MPs”.