Keir Starmer has been trumped in the row over Boris Johnson repeatedly lying to Parliament – by the new recruit he so warmly welcomed only recently.
John Bercow, the former Commons Speaker, said Labour backbencher Dawn Butler was right to claim the prime minister had lied – and called for “absurd” parliamentary rules to be changed so MPs can accuse one another of lying in the chamber.
In a joint article, written with Ms Butler for The Times, he wrote:
“The glaring weakness of the system is that someone lying to tens of millions of citizens knows he or she is protected by an ancient rule.
“They face no sanction. By contrast, an MP with the guts to tell the truth is judged to be in disgrace. It is absurd.”
Contrast this with party leader Starmer’s response, which was to say he agreed with what Ms Butler had said – but then to insist that Acting Deputy Speaker Judith Cummins was right to order the Labour MP to leave:
“In fairness to the temporary Speaker, Judith Cummins, who was there – she did the right thing, she followed the rules, because parliament doesn’t allow you to call other parliamentarians liars in the chamber. So I don’t criticise the deputy speaker for what she did.”
And not a word of support for changing the system.
This is just more evidence that Starmer is not fit to lead the Labour Party.
He simply doesn’t have the imagination to realise that rules are not immutable and may be changed – despite the fact that he works in a place where the rules that govern the whole of the UK are changed on a daily basis.
Ms Butler’s claims were factually accurate, by the way – the organisation Full Fact has checked them and supported them.
And just to blow my own trumpet, This Writer got there before either Starmer or Bercow: I wrote to the Speaker’s Office last week, telling current Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle the rule must be changed and that he should spend the summer devising a reasonable replacement.
I have yet to receive a reply, which should explain much about the state of the Speaker’s Office under Hoyle.
Meanwhile Bercow – by making the point that has been obvious to six-year-old chldren – has set himself up, already, as a potential leadership challenger from the right of the Labour Party.
He would be far more likely to succeed than a left-winger,under more ridiculous rules that demand a challenger must have a certain percentage of fellow MPs in support before a ballot can take place.
I don’t think he will challenge – at least, not yet – but this was a positive first step, and right-wingers in the Parliamentary Labour Party will have taken notice.
They won’t have been able to avoid noticing that the leader they backed only 15 months ago, and continued to support with nonsense claims ever since… is useless.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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