PMQs: Keir Starmer compares Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to Thelma & Louise, and accuses PM of gaslighting

Boris Johnson faced MPs in the first PMQs since Sue Gray’s initial report on the ‘partygate’ allegations were released

Boris Johnson was accused of trying to “gaslight” the British public as Sir Keir Starmer dubbed him and the chancellor the “Tory Thelma and Louise”.

The Labour leader made the comments during the first PMQs since the Sue Gray initial inquiry findings were released.

During the session the under-fire Prime Minister faced barbs over the “partygate’”scandal, here’s what was said.

PMQs saw Sir Keir Starmer compare Boris Johnson and the chancellor to the characters in the film Thelma and Louise.

What did Sir Keir Starmer say about Thelma & Louise?

During the session the Labour leader invoked the popular film which stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as two friends on a road trip who end up on the wrong side on the law - and ultimately drive off the edge off the Grand Canyon.

The Labour leader pressed the Prime Minister over cost of living concerns as Tory backbenchers continue to voice opposition to the forthcoming National Insurance hike.

Comparing Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to Thelma & Louise, telling MPs: “The truth is the Conservative Party is the party of high taxes because they’re the party of low growth, they’re the party of high taxes because they’re the party of eye-watering waste.

“We know this Prime Minister has no respect for decency or honesty. I can take it when it’s aimed at me, but I won’t accept it when he gaslights the British public – writing absurd articles about cutting taxes at a time when he is squeezing working people to the pips.

“Isn’t it the case that he and his Chancellor are the Tory Thelma and Louise, hand in hand as they drive the country off the cliff and into the abyss of low growth and high tax?”

Mr Johnson suggested Sir Keir and Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner were Wacky Races cartoon duo villan Dick Dastardly and his sidekick Muttley, and defended his Government’s economic record.

He said: “I think (Sir Keir) is Dick Dastardly and Muttley – both of them pulling in different directions, we know they have different views.”

The 1.25 percentage point National Insurance increase from April is expected to raise £12 billion a year for health and social care services but breaks Mr Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto pledge not to raise taxes.

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon starred in Thelma and Louise.

What references were made to ‘partygate?’

After Mr Johnson batted away earlier questions about the introduction of “stealth taxes” on working people, Sir Keir – in a nod to Downing Street party allegations – told the House of Commons: “The Prime Minister might want to sharpen how he answers questions under interview – he’s going to need it in the next few weeks.”

Sir Keir also said to him during the session:“Lots of words, lots of bluster, no answers - word of warning Prime Minister that’s not going to work with the police.”

What did the Speaker of the house say?

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle gave a statement prior to the start of the session addressing events on Monday when SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was ejected for accusing Boris Johnson of misleading the parliament over ‘partygate’.

Mr Blackford was asked to withdraw the comments but refused to do so.

Sir Lindsay reminded MPs about the rules of parliamentary etiquette when it comes to alleging another member has lied or misled the House.

He said it is not for him to change the current rules unilaterally, adding: “Therefore, I ask members to respect this approach.

“I know feelings run high on important issues we discuss but there are plenty of ways of making strong feelings felt within the rules and without placing the chair in the invidious position of having to order members to withdraw on seeking their suspension.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford responds to a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report (Photo: PA Wire).

What did Ian Blackford say?

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Commons that if the Prime Minister is questioned by the police, “he must go”.

In relation to the statement made earlier by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, Mr Blackford said he has a “difficulty reconciling the Prime Minister’s version of events” with his duty to “reflect and represent the deep, deep public anger with the Prime Minister”.

However, he added: “That said, I respect the absolute impartiality that you (Lindsay Hoyle) take in your role and I want to set on the record that I respect both you and the authority of the chair.”

Mr Blackford went on: “This morning the Telegraph newspaper revealed that the Prime Minister attended the party in his flat on November 13, 2020. The Prime Minister previously told the House that no party took place. The police are now investigating this party and we face a very real prospect of a sitting Prime Minister being questioned under caution and being fined in office.

“If he is questioned, he must go. If he is fined, he must resign.”

Boris Johnson replied: “I can tell him what has been going on in Downing Street in November and throughout, we have been delivering the fastest vaccine and booster rollout anywhere in Europe and we have been getting people back into work, and we have been helping to bring the West together to defy what I think is completely unacceptable threats of intimidation from the Putin regime against Ukraine. And that’s what we have been doing.”

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