'Who eats more cake?' PM accused of fat-shaming after taking swipe at Ian Blackford's weight

26 January 2022, 13:47 | Updated: 26 January 2022, 15:23

By Daisy Stephens

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of fat-shaming after making a joke about cake in response to a question from Ian Blackford.

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The SNP commons leader grilled Mr Johnson at PMQs on Wednesday, referencing a recent revelation that the Prime Minister shared a cake with staff on his birthday whilst the rest of the country was in lockdown.

"Every moment that the Prime Minister lingers, every nick in this death by a thousand cuts, is sucking attention from the real issues facing the public - Tory cuts, Brexit, and the soaring cost of living have pushed millions of families into poverty," said Mr Blackford.

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"The impending national insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine while they eat cake."

In response, Mr Johnson said through laughter: "Well, Mr Speaker, I don't know who's been eating more cake."

His words prompted laughter from the Tory benches, but have been heavily criticised online and by the SNP.

Kirsten Oswald, equalities spokesperson for the SNP, said Mr Johnson was "sending an appalling message to society" that would be "damaging" for young people.

"Boris Johnson has proven, yet again, that he is completely unfit for office," she said.

"Whether it's his body shaming jokes, his racism, his homophobia, or his wider misconduct in public office, Mr Johnson is giving people another telling insight into his odious character.

"The Prime Minister's frequently offensive remarks will have a damaging impact on many young people and need to be called out.

"He is sending an appalling message to society, that the most powerful person in the UK government thinks it's ok to mock people because of their bodies, race, sexual orientation and religion.

"The longer Tory MPs allow Mr Johnson to cling onto power, the more damage they will do to any remaining public trust in this discredited government."

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Eating disorder charity Beat also criticised Mr Johnson's comment, branding it "completely unacceptable" and encouraging the Prime Minister to "educate himself".

"It is completely unacceptable that the Prime Minister should resort to making fatphobic comments," said the charity's director of external affairs Tom Quinn.

"It shows a clear lack of regard for, or understanding of, the 1.25 million people in the UK affected by eating disorders, and we are extremely disappointed that he has deemed this to be an appropriate response.

"We would urge the Prime Minister to educate himself on the seriousness of these mental illnesses, and limit his comments of other MPs to their actions, not their appearances."

The Prime Minister's comments have also been criticised on social media.

One Twitter user wrote: "@BorisJohnson resorts to fat shaming @Ianblackford_MP the jeering tories loved it.

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"Schoolyard behaviour again in the house of Westminster.

"How desperate we need change."

Another called PMQs a "s**t show" and said: "Ian Blackford is owed an apology for the fat shaming and jeering over that fat shaming he just endured from the so-called 'prime' minister."

Others have criticised Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for not intervening, pointing out that other MPs are reprimanded for less offensive words.

One user wrote: "It's quite incredible how fast the house loses its s**t when a liar gets called a liar, but Boris Johnson literally fat-shaming Ian Blackford gets laughs and... nothing?"

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"I didn’t realise @BorisJohnsonfat-shaming @Ianblackford_MP in the @HouseofCommons was normal Parliamentary behaviour," wrote another.

"Why didn’t you say something @CommonsSpeaker?

"Is this the standard set in the upper echelons of political life? Shameful."

After his comment, the Prime Minister highlighted the good working relationship he claims to share with Mr Blackford, saying: "What I will say to the right honourable gentleman - for whom actually Mr Speaker, behind the scenes... we cooperate well, and I want to continue to do so."

Boris Johnson has been at the centre of so-called 'partygate' for months, after a string of illegal gatherings were revealed to have been held in Downing Street throughout the pandemic.

The most recent was a claim that the Prime Minister had a party in the Cabinet Room on his birthday.

The gathering on June 19 included a cake and staff singing happy birthday - at a time when communal singing was banned.

Northern Ireland minister and Tory MP Conor Burns said on Tuesday the event was not "premeditated" and that the Prime Minister was "ambushed with a cake", prompting ridicule of the excuse online.