The Tories accused Jeremy Corbyn and his allies of a “long line of misogynistic behaviour” as they sought to capitalise on the row over his alleged Commons comments.
The Labour leader was forced to deny calling Theresa May a “stupid woman” after the final Prime Minister’s Questions of the year descended into a bitter row.
But the Conservatives continued their attack on the Labour leader and attempted to drum up support for Mrs May’s party as the dispute rumbled on.
In a message to supporters, the Tory party’s vice chair for women Helen Whately pleaded with them to join the Conservatives at £25 a year to “show Corbyn he can’t get away with calling Theresa May a ‘stupid woman’.”
She said: “This is just the latest in a long line of misogynistic behaviour from Corbyn and his top team. ”
.@AngelaRayner believes @jeremycorbyn didn't say "stupid woman" and goes on to say that the incident should draw attention to how much abuse women do get in politics #Peston pic.twitter.com/kWRlEqEBsW— Peston (@itvpeston) December 19, 2018
But Mr Corbyn was defended by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner who said: “Jeremy has always been very straight and very clear about who he is and what he believes in and I honestly believe that Jeremy would not come to the House and say he said one thing when actually he said something else.
“I think he’s an honourable Member of Parliament and I think we should take him at his word and move on.”
Television cameras picked up the Labour leader saying something to those sat with him after the Prime Minister likened his attempt to force a confidence vote in her to a Christmas pantomime.
The video footage went viral on social media and sparked a furious debate in the Commons, with Tory MPs demanding Mr Corbyn be brought back to apologise.
Mr Corbyn flatly denied using the sexist phrase, telling MPs: “I referred to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as ‘stupid people’.
“I did not use the words ‘stupid woman’ about the Prime Minister or anyone else, and am completely opposed to the use of sexist or misogynist language in absolutely any form at all.”
The almost immediate circulation of footage of Mr Corbyn prompted uproar in the Commons, with shouting and heckling as a succession of MPs demanded action from Speaker John Bercow.
But he triggered a furious response from a slew of female MPs, including Commons leader Andrea Leadsom after refusing to take immediate action because he had not seen the incident.
The Speaker later returned and told MPs that while it was “easy to see” why Mr Corbyn’s words might have been construed as “stupid woman”, “nobody can be 100% certain, that includes professional lipreaders.”
The Speaker has made a statement in the House of Commons regarding speculation about comments made by the Leader of the Opposition.— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) December 19, 2018
Watch the statement and @jeremycorbyn's response. pic.twitter.com/6XZhxjiHoq
He added: “I will naturally take and would be expected to take, the word of any right honourable or honourable member. It’s reasonable to expect the House to do the same.”