Speaker scolds Boris Johnson for breaking rules during fiery PMQs

17 November 2021, 13:21 | Updated: 17 November 2021, 15:40

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly rebuked Boris Johnson for breaking the rules during an ill-tempered Prime Minister's Questions.

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The Prime Minister attempted to question Sir Keir Starmer about links with law firm Mishcon de Reya after the Labour leader pressed him to apologise over the Owen Paterson affair.

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.

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"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."

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Johnson later accused Sir Keir of "Mish-conduct", which prompted calls from the Labour benches for the comment to be withdrawn.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

Sir Keir was also rebuked by Sir Lindsay during a fiery session, and was forced to withdraw calling the Prime Minister a "coward".

Mr Johnson did not apologise for the Owen Paterson affair but repeated it was a "mistake" to conflate the issue with reforming the standards process more generally.

Sir Keir earlier said there is now agreement that Mr Paterson broke the rules and the Government "should not have tried to let him off the hook".

He noted some members of government have apologised and called on the PM to do the same, saying: "Will he do the decent thing and just say sorry for trying to give the green light to corruption?"

The PM said: "Well, yes, as I've said before it certainly was a mistake to conflate the case of an individual member - no matter how sad - with the point of principle at stake, and we do need a cross-party approach on an appeals process.

"We also need a cross-party approach on the way forward and that's why we've tabled the proposals that we have."

He added: "In the meantime, perhaps he can clear up from his proposals whether he would continue to be able to take money as he did from Mishcon de Reya and other legal firms?"

Sir Keir responded: "That's not an apology. Everybody else has apologised for him, but he won't apologise for himself. A coward not a leader."

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant later raised a point of order urging the Labour leader to withdraw his "coward" jibe.

Sir Lindsay noted: "Coward is not what is used in this House."

Sir Keir replied: "I withdraw it, but he's no leader."