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PMQs: Insight into the first Commons row after recess

This week’s PMQs were full of bad tempered exchanges as the Prime Minister dealt with criticism across the house following his fine for Downing Street gatherings in 2020.

This week’s highly anticipated Prime Minister’s Questions did not disappoint as Boris Johnson met wave after wave of attacks from opposite benches and within his own party.

Labour Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, continued his offensive on the Prime Minister for breaking lockdown rules, insisting the Prime Minister resign for breaking the law and accused him of lying to the house. He went on to highlighting the Prime Minister’s comments and ‘accusations’ on others when questioned over the last few months.

Sir Keir said: “a mealy mouthed apology when the cameras roll, a vicious attack on those who tell the truth as soon as the cameras are off. Slander decent people in a private room, let the slander spread without the backbone to repeat it in public”. In the heated exchange Sir Keir was clearly referring to Mr. Johnson’s criticisms of the archbishop, Justin Welby, and his previous comments inferring Sir Keir was complicit in the Jimmy Saville scandal.

Mr. Johnson fired back despite the lively exchange being the second day of sustained pressure over partygate, having apologised to the Commons the previous day. The Prime Minister responded by accusing Sir Keir of being “in some kind of Doctor Who time warp” and describing him as a “Corbynista in a smart Islington suit”. He consistently swept away criticism on this subject in favor of his soundbite to “get on with the job”.

The following questions to the Prime Minister were littered with calls to resign, notably from the SNP’s Ian Blackford and Richard Thomson withdrawing his description of Mr. Johnson as a “Pinocchio Prime Minister”. Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts added to the remarks, asking the Prime Minister whether he will support a law banning “lying in politics”.

Final thought

This week’s PMQs were full of expected remarks and criticism from across the house. The Prime Minister, more agitated than normal, tried his hardest to move on from the partygate agenda but failed to sway the political chatter for this week at least. Attention now turns to Thursday, where the Prime Minister will face a vote on a motion tabled by opposition parties calling for parliament’s privileges committee to investigate whether he misled the House. However, the motion will need to attract a major rebellion by Conservative MPs – which at this points seems very unlikely.

Photo credit: 10 Downing Street

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