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Angry Prime Minister’s Questions sees Boris Johnson branded a ‘coward’

Sir Keir Starmer addresses Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson was accused of being a “coward” during an ill-tempered Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson’s Conservative government continues to reel under sleaze and corruption allegations in the wake of the Owen Patterson affair.

The prime minister claimed the UK was one of the “cleanest democracies in the world” and that attacks on his government’s record did a “disservice” to those living in countries who “genuinely suffer” under corrupt regimes.

SNP leader Ian Blackford said the public had chosen to define what Mr Johnson’s government was doing as “corrupt”.

The prime minister raised the ongoing issue on the SNP accounting accusations, which allege £600,000 is missing from party coffers which was supposed to be set-aside for independence campaigning.

Mr Blackford said: “This is about Tory sleaze and the Prime Minister has basically admitted that not one of these Government’s sleaze scandals would have been stopped by the so-called plan.

“And, perhaps, we shouldn’t be surprised considering the Prime Minister has been at the rotten core of all these scandals.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

“The trail of sleaze and scandal all leads back to the funding of the Conservative Party. Since 2010, the Tory Party has made nine of its former treasurers members of the House of Lords. Every single of them has something in common: they have handed over £3 million to the Prime Minister’s party. That’s the very definition of corruption.

“It’s the public’s definition of corruption. Will this Government finally accept this is corruption or is the Prime Minister the only person in the country who has the brass neck to argue it was all one big coincidence?”

Mr Johnson responded: “I have to say that, you know, I won’t comment on the missing £600,000 from the SNP’s accounts.

“But I will say, in all sincerity, I think these constant attacks on the UK’s levels of corruption and sleaze do a massive disservice to billions of people around the world who genuinely suffer from governments that are corrupt and genuinely have no ability to scrutinise their MPs.

“This is one of the cleanest democracies in the world and people should be proud of that.”

Speaker’s rebuke

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly clashed with Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister attempted to question Sir Keir Starmer about any links with Mishcon de Reya.

Sir Lindsay told Mr Johnson: “I don’t want to fall out about it, I’ve made it very clear – it is Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s not for the Opposition to answer your questions.

“Whether we like it or not those are the rules of the game that we’re all into and we play by the rules, don’t we? And we respect this House, so let’s respect the House.”

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons

After Mr Johnson attempted to ask again about the issue in a later exchange, the Speaker said: “Prime Minister, sit down. I’m not going to be challenged, you may be the Prime Minister of this country but in this House I’m in charge.”

Mr Johnson later accused Sir Keir of “Mish-conduct”, which prompted calls from the Labour benches for the comment to be withdrawn.

The Speaker said: “I don’t think this has done this House any good today. I’ll be quite honest, I think it’s been ill-tempered, I think it shows the public that this House has not learnt from the other week, I need this House to gain respect but it starts by individuals showing respect for each other.”

‘Coward not a leader’

Boris Johnson was branded a “coward not a leader” after failing to apologise for the Westminster sleaze row.

Sir Keir Starmer doubted the Prime Minister is the “man to clean up Westminster” given he “led his troops through the sewers to cover up corruption and he can’t even say sorry”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) later raised a point of order urging Labour leader Sir Keir to withdraw his “coward” jibe, with Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle noting: “Coward is not what is used in this House.”

Sir Keir replied: “I withdraw it, but he’s no leader.”

The Labour leader had pressed Mr Johnson to follow some of his Conservative colleagues and apologise for the Owen Paterson affair.

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