What was said during PMQs? Boris Johnson accused of ‘body shaming’ SNP’s Ian Blackford
Boris Johnson appeared to allude to Westminster SNP leader Mr Blackford’s weight during PMQs
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During PMQs Mr Johnson had faced calls to quit from both Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, but responded by saying he wouldn’t resign.
But while responding to questions from Mr Blackford, Mr Johnson made a remark about cake which has proved to be controversial, and has been criticised by an eating disorders charity.
It comes as Sue Gray’s inquiry into the partygate scandal had been expected to be finalised this week with widespread expectation it will be made public in the coming days.
An indication of how damaging the report could be for the Government came when Scotland Yard chief Dame Cressida Dick announced a police inquiry was being carried out, based in part on evidence obtained by the Gray investigation.
The Gray investigation findings reportedly include pictures of the Prime Minister next to wine bottles.
This is what was said during PMQs on Wednesday.
What was said to Ian Blackford about cake?
In an exchange during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson appeared to allude to Mr Blackford’s weight.
The Prime Minister has been under pressure in recent weeks over parties held in and around Downing Street during lockdown, one of which was to celebrate his birthday which is believed to have involved a cake.
While urging Mr Johnson to quit, asking him at one one when he would “cop on” and “go”, Mr Blackford said: “The impending National Insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine while they eat cake.”
In response, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t know… who has been eating more cake.”
Kirsten Oswald, Mr Blackford’s deputy leader at Westminster, hit out at Mr Johnson’s comments.
“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 okay to mock people because of their bodies, race, sexual orientation and religion.
“The longer Tory MPs allow Mr Johnson to cling on to power, the more damage they will do to any remaining public trust in this discredited Government.”
Eating disorder charity Beat also criticised Mr Johnson’s comment to Mr Blackford.
Its director of external affairs Tom Quinn said: “It is completely unacceptable that the Prime Minister should resort to making fatphobic comments.
“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.”
What was said to Boris Johnson by Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs?
During Prime Minister’s Questions Boris Johnson agreed the ministerial code does apply to him, but refused to comment on the Downing Street party investigation.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked: “The ministerial code says that ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation. Does the Prime Minister believe that applies to him?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Of course, but let me tell the House that I think he is inviting a question about an investigation which is – as you know, Mr Speaker, I cannot comment – and which he, as a lawyer, will know that I can’t comment on.”
Labour leader Sir Keir said: “I think the Prime Minister said yes, he agrees the code does apply to him. Therefore, if he misled Parliament he must resign.
“On December 1, the Prime Minister told this House in relation to parties during lockdown: ‘All guidance was followed completely in Number 10’, from that despatch box.
“On December 8 the Prime Minister told this House: ‘I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged there was no party’. So since he acknowledges the ministerial code applies to him, will he now resign?”
Mr Johnson replied: “No, Mr Speaker. Since he asked about Covid restrictions, let me just remind the House, and indeed remind the country, that he has been relentlessly opportunistic throughout.
“He has flip-flopped from one side to the other, he would have kept us in lockdown in the summer, he would have taken us back into lockdown at Christmas.”
Mr Johnson also revealed the Government would launch a plan on Thursday to get half a million people “off welfare into work”.
Later in the session Sir Keir Starmer said to Mr Johnson: “Does the Prime Minister really not understand the damage his behaviour is doing to our country?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I hope (he) understands that though the issue he raises is important, there is simply no way, as he knows as a lawyer, that I can comment on the investigation … it’s almost as though he was in ignorance of the fact that we have a crisis on the borders of Ukraine.”
Sir Keir also said to Mr Johnson: “We now have the shameful spectacle of a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being subject to a police investigation, unable to lead the country, incapable of doing the right thing and every day his Cabinet fail to speak out they become more and more complicit.”
In response the Prime Minister said: “Of course he wants me out of the way, he does, I don’t deny it, for all sorts of reasons many people may want me out of the way, but I’ll tell you the reason why he wants me out of the way, it’s because he knows this Government can be trusted to deliver.”
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