Jeremy Corbyn was denounced after he refused to condemn his Shadow Chancellor for making vile remarks about Tory minister Esther McVey. Picture: Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

London - Jeremy Corbyn was denounced on Sunday night after he refused to condemn his Shadow Chancellor for making vile remarks about Tory minister Esther McVey.

John McDonnell is accused of calling her a "stain on humanity" and joked about Miss McVey being attacked by lynch mobs.

On Sunday he was condemned by senior Tories as Labour was urged to deal with the "rot at the top".

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom branded Mr McDonnell "truly evil" and "utterly disgusting". Tory party chairperson Brandon Lewis demanded the Opposition root out abusive supporters, adding: "Labour need to have the courage to stand up and call out the rot at the top of their party and demand respect online."

"They must stamp out a culture of online abuse that has been allowed to fester for too long."

But Mr Corbyn refused to condemn his close ally Mr McDonnell, who called Miss McVey a ‘stain on humanity’ when he was a backbencher.

The Shadow Chancellor has also been criticised for separately discussing lynching the Tory minister at a comedy night three years ago.

In a recording that emerged in 2014, Mr McDonnell spoke about a visit to Miss McVey’s former Merseyside constituency, where the former GMTV presenter faced a major union-backed campaign to oust her from the marginal seat.

To applause, he said: "I was up in Liverpool a fortnight ago where Alec McFadden, one of our [union] organisers, launched the Sack Esther McVey Day on her birthday. I spoke at a packed public meeting... there was a whole group in the audience that completely kicked off quite critical of the whole concept, because they were arguing “Why are sacking her? Why aren’t we lynching the b******?”"

On Sunday, after the recording was broadcast on television for the first time, Mrs Leadsom wrote on Twitter: "This is truly evil. Utterly disgusting. The laughter about launching a campaign against Esther McVey on her birthday, and then the guffaws about killing her. Seriously? Is this Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, gentler politics? This has to stop."

Challenged over his ally’s remarks, Mr Corbyn told ITV’s Peston On Sunday: "I would rather stick to where I disagree with somebody on their policies. I fundamentally disagree with Esther McVey and her approach towards inequality and the poor and the worst off within our society and I will stick to that."

Mr Lewis said Mr Corbyn’s refusal to act ‘showed more than ever that the rot is at the top of the Labour Party’.

He added: "Abuse has no place in our democracy and we will condemn it wherever it arises – Jeremy Corbyn needs to do the same."

Housing minister Dominic Raab tweeted: "Corbyn won’t condemn the vitriolic abuse by his pal, McDonnell.

"Add to that, the Equality and Human Rights Commission say Labour have a problem with anti-Semitism."

"And yet they piously preach equality and tolerance. Breath-taking hypocrisy."

Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, appeared to distance himself from the comments after he was played the recording on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show. "It’s certainly not language I would have used,’ he said. He added that Mr McDonnell was quoting someone else at the time."

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, told Sky’s Niall Paterson on Sunday that Mr McDonnell’s comments were not the language she would have used. However, she added that Miss McVey ‘left a lot to be desired’ during her time as disabilities minister.

The hard Left last week restarted its vile campaign of online abuse against Miss McVey as she returned to the Cabinet. Labour supporters bombarded the former television star with vicious posts as she was appointed Work and Pensions Secretary.

A Left-wing hate mob singled her out for abuse on Twitter, branding her a murderess, a witch, the grim reaper, a whore and a bitch. The 50-year-old, an employment minister under David Cameron, lost her Wirral West seat in 2015, but returned to Parliament after last year’s polls.

As she started her new role last week, online taunts included a mocked-up image of the minister holding a gun and screaming, "Get out of the wheelchair", at a disabled person. One Twitter user called Red Forever posted: ‘Esther McVey back to finish her job of killing the sick and disabled. #DWP murderess...’