Tag Archives: PMQs

Incredible sulk: and Johnson will have a lot to sulk about if MPs tighten rules on lying

Temper, temper: Boris Johnson lost his rag in PMQs over repeated accusations of dishonesty and sleaze. Trouble is, his outburst contained at least one more false claim.

It had to happen at a Prime Minister’s Questions that This Writer didn’t see.

For once, Labour leader Keir Starmer had a good week – but then, with the kind of ammunition he has been provided over the last few days, he could hardly go wrong.

He spent most of his time on the financing of renovations to Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat. Questions over the origin of £60,000 of funding were asked months ago and not answered.

Now, Starmer asked directly whether the money – now pegged at £58,000 – was put up by Lord Brownlow – and Johnson failed to answer directly.

Rather than saying whether Brownlow had any involvement, he simply asserted – repeatedly – that he himself had “covered the cost”.

It would be entirely possible for Johnson to have “covered the cost” after receiving the money from a third party – and the fact that he did not flatly deny any involvement by Brownlow means his claim is meaningless.

But it may be Starmer’s first question that turns out to have been the bigger bear-trap. He asked whether it was true that Johnson had said he would rather have “bodies piled high” than implement another lockdown.

Johnson answered with a categorical “no”, coupled with a demand for Starmer to bring forward any evidence he had.

That may seem fairly straightforward.

But then Starmer said he would follow up on his question in the future.

And then the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford waded into the fray. Acknowledging that MPs aren’t allowed to directly accuse each other of dishonesty, he simply asked Johnson to say whether he is a liar or not.

And Johnson wouldn’t:

As you can see from the clip, first he tried to worm out of answering by querying whether the question was in order – it was.

Then he (again) questioned the evidence of him having done as Blackford (and Starmer) had suggested.

And then he responded that he had not said those words (leading us all to conclude that they may be a close paraphrase of whatever he really said).

Under this kind of pressure, perhaps it should come as no surprise that, while responding to Starmer’s claim that he was “Major Sleaze”*, Johnson underwent what might be described as a “sulk-out” – a two-minute rant that failed to address what he had been asked…

… including another false claim – that Starmer had voted against the Tory government’s Brexit deal.

And this is important, because…

As a result of all these accusations of dishonesty, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has supported a plan to enforce the rules on misleading Parliament.

Amid a fresh row over the prime minister’s “lies” to MPs, Lindsay Hoyle supported a proposal for the cross-party Commons Procedure Committee to look into “how perceived inaccuracies could be corrected” as quickly as possible.

This could create serious difficulties for Johnson, whose serial lies were mentioned on This Site very recently.

You see, Starmer is right – any minister who knowingly misleads Parliament – including the Prime Minister – is expected to offer their resignation.

If the Procedure Committee puts this expectation on a more formal basis – and Starmer produced the evidence that Johnson did make a comment to the effect that he would rather see multiple deaths than impose a lockdown – then that would signal the end of his premiership.

And it wouldn’t be a day too soon.

*That should be Major Corruption, as reported a few days ago by This Site (and others) – but perhaps Starmer was restricted from saying as much by Parliamentary rules (again).

Source: Boris Johnson Facing Tough New Rules To Force Him To Correct ‘Lies’ To Parliament | HuffPost UK

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As both Starmer and Johnson try to strike hits, last PMQs of 2020 becomes a battle of (half)wits

Johnson v Starmer: it really doesn’t matter who scores the most points in their regular weekly confrontations as they’re each as daft as the other.

Did an element of end-of-term fever enter into the last weekly clash of UK political party leaders of 2020? One would assume so, from the quality of this exchange.

It seems Keir Starmer was hoping to get one over on Boris Johnson with his final submission to yesterday’s (December 16) Prime Minister’s Questions. He said:

This is the last PMQs of the year, and I for one often wonder where the Prime Minister gets his advice from.

Well, now I know, because I have here the official newsletter of the Wellingborough Conservative party. It is not on everyone’s Christmas reading list, but it is a fascinating read, because it gives a lot of advice to wannabe politicians.

It says this: “Say the first thing that comes into your head… It’ll probably be nonsense… You may get a bad headline… but… If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, you can get away with it.”

The December edition includes the advice: “Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time.”

So my final question to the Prime Minister is this: is he the inspiration for the newsletter, or is he the author?

As attempted put-downs go, you have to agree that it wasn’t bad.

Sadly for Starmer, Johnson’s retort was better:

I think what the people of this country would love to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in this season of good will is any kind of point of view at all on some of the key issues.

This week, he could not make up his mind whether it was right for kids to be in school or not, and havering [whatever that means] completely.

He could not make up his mind last week whether or not to support what the Government were doing to fight covid, and told his troops, heroically, to abstain.

He could not make up his mind about Brexit, we all seem to remember.

We do not know whether he will vote for a deal or not.

He cannot attack the Government if he cannot come up with a view of his own.

In the words of the song, “All I want for Christmas is” a view, and it would be wonderful if he could produce one.

Alas, we all know – thanks to the diktats released by Starmer’s (acting) general secretary David Evans – that the Labour Party is now not allowed to have any views on anything at all, for fear of offending the legions of ‘snowflakes’ covering the UK (even in this, so far, mild winter).

Starmer was defeated. The loss will be all the more galling to him because Jeremy Corbyn was never so soundly thrashed by either Theresa May or the current incumbent.

And Johnson will go to his Christmas break happy to have won that round of the regular battle of wits.

But then, given the quality of the participants, it would be more accurate to describe it as a battle of halfwits.

Source: Engagements – Wednesday 16 December 2020 – Hansard – UK Parliament

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PMQs: Starmer misses Johnson’s gaping-open goal, allowing the Tory to make a fool of him

Johnson and Starmer: we have a PM for whom the initials more appropriately refer to him as a Performing Monkey, but the ‘forensic’ former Attorney General is incapable of beating him, despite his incompetence.

Keir Starmer’s protestations of support for Tory government anti-Covid policies came back to bite him on the arse in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Two weeks after supporting the government in its decision to close pubs at 10pm, Starmer u-turned, demanding an explanation of the science behind it. He gave Johnson a perfect opportunity to land a knockout blow – and launch a new anti-Labour soundbite:

I was dismayed:

Sadly, that was the way of it for the whole of this week’s PMQs – as I had feared at the outset:

Look at the rest of my commentary on the confrontation:

He didn’t. But Johnson picked up on that failure and it led to the knockout later on.

As I write this, Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Politics Live is suggesting to Labour’s Stephen Doughty that Starmer wrote Johnson “a blank cheque” by offering his support “whatever restrictions are in place”.

That failure – that lack of closure – seems to have given Johnson the confidence to launch his own attack.

I could have done better:

Starmer is under attack at the moment, for his failures to lead an effective Opposition against the Johnson government.

On Twitter, the general public are at each other’s throats with many attacking him under the #StarmerOut hashtag, while others have tried to subvert that with an opposing line, #StarmerOutstanding.

In the real world, the union Unite has withdrawn 10 per cent of its funding because Starmer “isn’t listening” on matters of major importance (I’ll make more of this in a separate article).

If he can’t respond to these criticisms – as he failed to protect himself from Johnson soundbiting him into shreds – then he must seriously reconsider his position.

He is leading Labour into irrelevance.

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Peston’s client journalism: his fawning tweet about ‘saddened’ Johnson gets short shrift

Johnson and Starmer: political hack Robert Peston managed to get between them during PMQs with an ill-judged remark that has singled him out as a client journalist for the PM.

Sometimes you can tell how a nation feels by the way it reacts to the reporting of the news.

That’s what Robert Peston has been discovering after a particularly ill-advised tweet toadying to Boris Johnson. Here it is:

Johnson wasn’t saddened. He was annoyed that Labour leader Keir Starmer was asking pertinent questions about the failure of the Tory Test and Trace system and was desperate to deflect attention away from that failure.

We all saw it – those of us who were watching Prime Minister’s Questions. And some of us had a few sharp responses:

No – it’s client journalism. Peston was working in Johnson’s favour, trying to make the performing monkey PM look better than he is.

It’s a moment’s work that has been particularly damaging for Peston himself:

And it hasn’t done Johnson any favours either:

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‘Desperate’? Boris Johnson is clutching at straws as his party loses faith

Impotent rage: Boris Johnson is losing his grip on his party, as his incompetence as a leader becomes increasingly apparent.

Remember the old adage that repeating an action and expecting a different result is a sign of madness? It seems Boris Johnson hasn’t.

But then we already knew his grip on reality is tenuous at best.

The Observer is reporting that he is furious at the failure of his attempt to smear Labour leader Keir Starmer by connecting him with the IRA.

But rather than finding an alternative, he has instead reprimanded his advisers for leaving him under-prepared – and demanded more attack lines on Starmer, doubling down on criticism of his legal record.

It hasn’t worked; it won’t work.

Even where Starmer may be criticised, he knows those weaknesses and will have answers.

And of course Johnson will be laying himself open to analysis of his own past career – which consists of multiple claims of dishonesty and at least one high-profile sacking.

That won’t play well when he lays himself open to an airing of his faults at PMQs.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in the Conservative Party will be doing what they always do when they see a leader sinking; they’re sharpening their knives. Here’s The Observer:

There is evidence that the wider Tory party is losing faith in Johnson’s ability to lead them against Starmer – and signs that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has become the new favourite of the Conservative grassroots.

According to the latest survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome, the website for party activists, Johnson is now in the bottom third of cabinet ministers in the satisfaction ratings – having been the runaway leader nine months ago.

Johnson has slumped to 19th place, below Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, with a rating of plus 24.6%. Sunak meanwhile is out in front on plus 82.5%.

The verdict among the Twitterati is that Johnson is self-destructing:

You get the idea.

Who said Johnson would be gone by Christmas?

It seems likely he might be out a lot sooner.

Source: Desperate Boris Johnson to step up personal attacks on Keir Starmer | Politics | The Guardian

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PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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What was the object Boris Johnson had in his ear during Prime Minister’s Questions?

The offending article: it isn’t a shadow – it’s a device. Was somebody feeding Boris Johnson answers via this earphone [Image from the eagle-eyed Skwawkbox]?

Was Boris Johnson wearing an earphone in his right ear during Prime Minister’s Questions today (June 3)?

If so, who was on the other end and what were they saying to him?

Mechanical aids are forbidden to the PM when he is taking his questions from other members of Parliament. He is expected to be fully briefed before he enters the Commons Chamber – not while proceedings are taking place.

The people of the UK should certainly expect the Speaker’s Office to carry out an investigation into the nature of the device and the purpose to which it was put.

If Johnson needed help, then it shows he isn’t even capable of carrying out the most basic duties of a prime minister.

In that case, it will be time for a vote of ‘no confidence’.

Source: Breaking: Johnson caught using ‘earpiece’ in PMQs – SKWAWKBOX

UPDATE: Skwawkbox is now showing video evidence which suggests Johnson was not wearing a device in his ear. It seems the appearance of a dark object in his right ear, in the image above, is only indicative of the void between it and his left ear after all. But what do you think?

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Tory MPs share doctored video of Starmer in abortive smear attempt

Here’s another tweet by ‘Mad Nad’ Nadine Dorries – which she could now more accurately use to describe herself.

Health minister Nadine Dorries, former Tory vice-chair Maria Caulfield and Lucy Allan have made an abortive attempt to discredit Labour leader Keir Starmer by sharing a misleading video created by far-right activists.

They quote-tweeted a video post that claimed to show Starmer explaining “why he didn’t prosecute grooming gangs”, when in fact he was explaining why he implemented reforms as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A Labour source said: “This is a doctored video tweeted by far-right social media account. As a government minister, we hope Nadine Dorries acknowledges this and takes it down.”

Dorries and Allan have now deleted their posts, while Caulfield has deleted her Twitter account.

But the real question is how the three Tory MPs obtained the video in the first place: the original Twitter user – whose account is now deleted – has previously shared racist content.

The trio’s decision to post this anti-Starmer propaganda has been questioned by many on the social media, who point to the fact that the new Labour leader had just exposed false claims about Covid-19-related deaths in care homes by Boris Johnson:

(I think he means they’ll be asking anybody who retweeted their falsehood to retweet their apology.)

Perhaps more revealing is the fact that any reference to the prosecution of child grooming allegations in connection with Boris Johnson brings us back to his own – genuine – remarks, that the investigation into historical allegations of child abuse is “spaffing money up the wall” (an extremely unwise comment when one considers the meaning of the word “spaffing”):

So, while we wait for Mad Nad and Loathsome Lucy to delete their accounts, perhaps BoJob would like to explain why he wanted to stop investigations into child sexual abuse?

Source: Tory MPs share doctored video of Starmer promoted by far right – LabourList

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Coronavirus: Johnson is floundering toward lifting the lockdown too soon because he wants happy headlines

Boris Johnson: this is an old image but it perfectly sums up the character he displayed in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Let’s give Boris Johnson a new nickname. After his performance in Prime Minister’s Questions – and a recent viewing of a favourite comedy movie – This Writer believes he should be called Flounder.

I’m not saying that because he resembles the stupid-but-saveable character in the movie (the Parliamentary version of which would no doubt be entitled Animal House of Commons) – but because it’s how he spent his first session answer questions from Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader.

Starmer’s no silver-tongued sweet-talker; he’s a plodder. But he plodded rings round Flounder as the prime minister desperately sought an upside to the catalogue of catastrophes we know as his record of handling the coronavirus crisis.

Faced with the government’s failure to hit its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day – and the obvious fact that the claim to have done so on April 30 was a lie, Flounder set a new target of 200,000 by the end of this month (while health secretary Matt Hancock blanched visibly behind him):

For clarity:

Latest figures show 69,463 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday, well short of the 100,000 benchmark.

The total was 84,806 up to 9am on Tuesday, 85,186 up to 9am on Monday and 76,496 up to 9am on Sunday.

Perhaps realising he had dug another ditch for himself to die in, Flounder latched on to the only other big question – when he is likely to lift the lockdown.

So he took a gamble and hinted that something might happen on Monday:

There’s only one problem with that: the figures suggest that it is far too early to even think of lifting the lockdown.

The UK is still experiencing more than 6,000 new coronavirus infections per day, along with more than 600 deaths. Those with the intelligence to understand what this means know perfectly well what lifting the lockdown will signify:

For clarity:

Suicide by the Tories, maybe.

For most of us, the victims of their policies, it will be mass murder.

Flounder will end up, as John Crace states in his Guardian commentary (that was overly obsequious to Starmer, in This Writer’s opinion), “with blood on his hands that no amount of washing for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday can get clean”.

Some might call it pointless death, but that would not be true.

If Flounder lifts the lockdown, and it triggers a second peak in coronavirus infections and deaths, it will happen for just one reason:

Boris Johnson was struggling, and thought he could help himself out with a happy headline.

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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Corbyn humiliates Johnson over Greggs bonus – that might as well be a donation to the government

Remember the £300 bonus Greggs bakery was offering to staff?

The one that Ally Fogg on Twitter said might as well be a £7 million donation to the Treasury because most employees are on Universal Credit and the system will claw back the cash?

Jeremy Corbyn does.

Having researched the issue, he has worked out that most workers will retain only £75 – a quarter of the bonus. The rest will go to the Treasury.

So he took Boris Johnson to task over it in Prime Minister’s Questions on January 22:

All he got back – all we got – was more bluster and bumbling from an amateur politician who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It’s clear that the only people taking home more of our workers’ pay are in the Tory government.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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