The Speaker
Monday, 20 May 2024 – 23:18

Highlights as Boris Johnson faces questions from MPs in PMQs

Boris Johnson has faced Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs in his first session of PMQs.

The Prime Minister started by paying tribute to PC Andrew Harper, who was killed on duty last month. The first question he faced was from Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh who called on the PM to put a no-deal Brexit to a referendum. Mr Johnson replied: “This government will take this country out the EU on 31 October” and adds “only one thing” stands in their way, being Jeremy Corbyn’s “surrender bill”.

Mr Corbyn, along with other MPs, repeatedly called on the Prime Minister to reveal proposals made to the EU in Brexit negotiations under his government, in particular about replacing the backstop. No direct response was given on any occasion.

The PM described the Labour leader’s Brexit strategy as a recipe for more “dither and delay”. He also dubbed the leader of the opposition as a “chlorinated chicken” and was later told off by the Commons Speaker John Bercow for breaking Parliamentary convention by referring to him by ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ rather than the MP for Islington North or ‘the honourable gentleman’.

Mr Corbyn said he “fails to see” how he can be seen to be undermining the Brexit negotiations “as none are taking places”. He also requested that the Prime Minister publish the Yellowhammer documents so the public can see the government’s assessment of the impact of a no-deal Brexit, however, the PM did not agree to this.

Mr Johnson described Labour’s economic policy as “s** or bust”, claiming it to be a quote from Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary. 

The Labour leader said the PM is “desperate to avoid scrutiny”, referring somewhat to the prorogation of Parliament and failure to answer questions. The Prime Minister looked outraged at the accusation and is reported to have shouted back “Come on! Let’s have an election!” This conflicts with statements made just yesterday where the PM said he didn’t want an election.

The SNPs Westminster leader Ian Blackford described the PM as ‘a new boy’ and advised “we ask the questions and he’s supposed to answer them.”

Mr Blackford also asked the PM,  “Are you a dictator or are you a democrat?” – the PM said he is a democrat as he wants to “respect the will of the people in the referendum”.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi was applauded as he criticised Mr Johnson saying he should “finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks which have led to a spike in hate crime”, referencing previous comments about the burka. Mr Johnson claimed the article containing the comments was a defence of the burka.

The session of PMQs came hours before MPs are due to debate a bill which could force the government to request an extension to Article 50 until 31 January 2020 in order to block a no-deal Brexit. The government was defeated on Tuesday night for the first time and is somewhat expected to be defeated again on Wednesday, potentially leading to a general election.

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