Iain Duncan Smith labels gay MP a ‘pantomime dame’

Iain Duncan Smith today risked accusations of homophobia after calling a gay Labour MP a "pantomime dame".

The work and pensions secretary was answering a question about his troubled universal credit scheme when he stopped to level a jibe at shadow minister Chris Bryant.

"I know Christmas is over but I think one of the pantomimes left a pantomime dame on the front bench," Duncan Smith said as he jabbed a finger in Bryant's direction.

Bryant later confirmed that the insult had been directed at him.

"I've now been called a pantomime dame by two cabinet members," he tweeted.

"I think they meant it as a slur. Surely that's a compliment?" he added.

George Osborne was urged to apologise in 2010 after also calling Bryant a pantomime dame.

"I don't think he would have said that phrase if I was not gay," Bryant said at the time.

"I think when he gets back to the office he will probably think to himself 'I should send a little note saying sorry, I didn't mean to offend'" he added.

Aides to the chancellor insisted he had just been making a "Christmas joke" and did not mean to make a homophobic slur about the Labour MP.