You may not have noticed this because mainstream news sites like the BBC didn’t consider it worth reporting, but there was a vote of censure in UK prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday.
— Bruce Nelson #FBPE #FBPPR 🏴🇪🇺🔶 (@dbnelson99) November 30, 2021
It failed, of course – when the Tories have a whopping 80-seat majority, voted in by the UK’s most gullible electors ever (some of these people actually believed that Jeremy Corbyn was a threat to the nation and that Boris Johnson’s Brexit wasn’t!) they’re going to think it’s their job to decide when their rotten leader gets the boot – and which of them will replace him.
The motion was moved by the SNP, whose leader, Ian Blackford, spoke passionately on his subject, as we can see from Hansard’s record:
I beg to move that this House censures the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, for frequently violating the sixth Principle of Public Life, for seeking to undermine the recommendations of the Standards Committee on Owen Paterson, for regularly ignoring independent advice on matters such as international treaties and breaches of the Ministerial Code by his ministers, for putting forward proposals to diminish the powers of the Electoral Commission, for ignoring independent advice concerning the granting of peerages to Conservative party donors and nominations to public bodies such as Ofcom; and further calls for his ministerial salary to be reduced by £41,567 per year.
The charge sheet against the Prime Minister is, indeed, damning. In the past few weeks alone, he ripped up anti-lobbying rules when one of his own was found guilty, he is attempting to restrict the right to judicial review and he is seeking to undermine the independence of the Electoral Commission. But it did not start there, and it definitely does not end there.
Since coming into office a little over two years ago, the Prime Minister has been up to his neck in scandals involving cash for honours, cash for contracts, texts for tax breaks and even cash for curtains. As the motion states, he is constantly breaking the sixth principle of public life, the duty to be truthful.
Month after month, scandal after scandal, the charge sheet gets longer and longer, but not a single person is held to account. If the public are to have confidence in this place, that needs to change, and it needs to change today. Because unless the Prime Minister faces consequences—unless he is censured—he will not just think he has gotten away with the mess he has made over the last few months; he will think he will be able to do it over and over again. Let us be very clear: if the Prime Minister is not properly censured today, it will also be final proof that the Tories really do believe that its one rule for them and one rule for everybody else.
The Tories marched through the Lobby to undermine our parliamentary standards process, to tear up the rule books, all in order to protect a friend of the Prime Minister who was found to have broken the rules. This whole sorry episode showed this Parliament at its very worst—and, trust me, that is saying something. The Government Chief Whip and the Leader of the House are easy scapegoats, but we all know that this was orchestrated by a Prime Minister who thinks he is untouchable, who thinks he can do as he pleases. This is a Prime Minister who thinks he can change the rules at will and who believes that if the rules become inconvenient, they can simply be changed. So the question stands today: how much does it really take for Tory MPs to say enough is enough?
How far standards have fallen is shown by the fact that the charges I have made against the Prime Minister are not even in dispute—they are all matters of public record. The Prime Minister has even admitted that in managing these scandals he personally “crashed the car into the ditch”.
It tells us all we need to know, though, that he did not even have the decency to admit that in the House of Commons. He only felt the need to admit his mistakes and apologise to his Back Benchers in the Tory 1922 committee, and it was only because they were muttering about mutiny. I am not sure that apology counts if he only did it to try to save his own skin.
Ian Blackford – "The truth & the Prime Minister have always been strangers…. I can only conclude that the Prime Minister has demonstrated himself to be a liar" pic.twitter.com/qlyfnmIXA8
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) November 30, 2021
I think this is the first time the word ‘lie’ has been permitted in the House of Commons in my 20 years here. I think the House authorities acknowledge that no other word could be found to effectively describe the conduct of the Prime Minister today. Quite a big moment.
— Pete Wishart (@PeteWishart) November 30, 2021
He also said [boldings mine]:
This Prime Minister is at the centre of the sleaze and corruption—he is orchestrating much of it. I am afraid corruption is the only proper word—the only honest word—for what has been going on. As I said at the weekend, the Leader of the Opposition—I do wonder where Opposition Members are—is now very fond of repeating the line that when it comes to the Prime Minister “the joke isn’t funny anymore”. But in truth it was never funny, and we are all now living with the consequences of having a man like this in Downing Street.
Where were the Labour MPs?
It is absolutely incredible to learn that the Labour Party have today refused to join in with the SNP vote of no confidence in the worst Govt in living memory. @UKLabour are no longer fit to be in Parliament
— oldcornishbloke 🇵🇸🇬🇧 (@mrkernow) November 30, 2021
Well, fortunately, some of them turned up – but their leader, Keir Starmer, was highly conspicuous by his absence.
It is possible that he had “paired” with another MP in order to ensure that a necessary absence from the debate for purposes of other Parliamentary work did not affect the vote.
Johnson himself couldn’t be bothered to turn up to the debate – he was photographed at a food and drink market that had been set up outside Downing Street.
But, as leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition to the government in Parliament, for Starmer to have arranged his affairs specifically to avoid taking part in a vote of ‘no confidence’ against the prime minister of the worst Tory government in UK history is unforgivable.
It was, in effect, a vote of support for a corrupt Tory liar.
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