Boris Johnson faces repeated calls to quit during bruising PMQs session

The Prime Minister had already been rocked by defection of backbench MP Christian Wakeford to the Labour Party minutes before the session.

Richard Wheeler
Wednesday 19 January 2022 13:33
A view of the Conservative party benches as Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands to speak during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)
A view of the Conservative party benches as Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands to speak during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)

Boris Johnson endured repeated calls for him to quit during a bruising Prime Minister’s Questions, with one senior Tory MP urging: “In the name of God, go.”

The Prime Minister sought to dismiss the blow of his backbench MP Christian Wakeford defecting to Labour minutes before the session, and insisted the Tories will “win again in Bury South”.

But MPs on the opposition benches queued up to call for Mr Johnson to leave his post amid allegations over partying in Downing Street during the pandemic.

It culminated in Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis explaining how he has spent weeks defending Mr Johnson from “angry constituents”, including by reminding them of the “successes of Brexit”.

But he said: “I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take.

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.

David Davis

“Yesterday he did the opposite of that. So, I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain.

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”

Mr Johnson replied: “I must say to him, I don’t know what he is talking about.

“What I can tell him – I don’t know what quotation he is alluding to – what I can tell him is and I think have told this House repeatedly, I take full responsibility for everything done in this Government and throughout the pandemic.”

Earlier, Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister’s defence requires the public to believe that “as he waded through the empty bottles and platters of sandwiches, he didn’t realise it was a party”.

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner waves at Prime Minister Boris Johnson (House of Commons/PA)

He also said: “If the Prime Minister thinks the only accusation he faces is that he once had a beer with a takeaway then Operation Save Big Dog is in deeper trouble than I thought.

“If the Prime Minister misleads Parliament, should they resign?”

Mr Johnson replied: “(Sir Keir) is continuing to ask a series of questions which he knows will be fully addressed by the inquiry, he is wasting this House’s time, he is wasting the people’s time, and continues to be completely irrelevant.”

Sir Keir countered: “I know it’s not going well Prime Minister, but look on the bright side – at least his staff at Number 10 know how to pack a suitcase.”

Sir Keir Starmer piled pressure on the Prime Minister (House of Commons/PA)

The leader of the Opposition concluded his questions by raising soaring energy bills, insisting Labour has a plan to respond while the Government is offering “nothing” and is “too distracted by their own chaos to do their job”.

He said: “While Labour was setting out plans to heat homes, he was buying a fridge to keep the party wine chilled.

“While we were setting out plans to keep bills down, he was planning parties. And while we were setting out plans to save jobs in the steel industry, he was trying to save just one job – his own.

“Doesn’t the country deserve so much better than this out-of-touch, out-of-control, out-of-ideas and soon to be out-of-office Prime Minister?”

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford sat on the Opposition benches (House of Commons/PA)

Mr Johnson defended the Government’s record during the pandemic and beyond, adding: “When the history of this pandemic comes to be written and the history of the Labour Party comes to be written – and believe me, they are history and will remain history – it will show that we delivered while they dithered, and we vaccinated while they vacillated.”

He went on to hail the booster jab programme and praised staff in Whitehall, the Government and the NHS, adding: “I am intensely proud of what this Government has done.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “This week was supposed to be ‘Operation Save Big Dog’, but it’s quickly become ‘Operation Dog’s Dinner’.”

He added: “The Prime Minister is taking the public for fools, nobody believes him. Will the Prime Minister finally take responsibility? Resign, go, Prime Minister.”

Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) said: “When a Prime Minister is spending his time trying to convince the great British public that he’s actually stupid rather than dishonest, isn’t it time that he goes now?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I’ve made my point. I think that the British public have responded to what this Government has had to say in the most eloquent way possible.

“They have beaten Covid so far. They have helped to defeat Covid so far, with the steps they have taken, by getting vaccinated and implementing Plan B, and I thank them.”

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