Brexit rebels seize control after defeating Boris Johnson: Live updates – CNN
Prime Minister’s Questions is famously the toughest hour of the week for any British leader, and the small number of living politicians who have been through it say it pays to do your homework. Boris Johnson’s first outing in the weekly PMQs bearpit was a hard reminder of that lesson.
The Prime Minister was assailed from all sides — including from people who until last night were members of his own parliamentary party. Johnson looked ill prepared and evasive, relying on stock phrases and off-the-cuff jokes to get him through.
It wasn’t enough.
The opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn began the assault with a series of focused questions about the impact of a no-deal Brexit that had Johnson rattled. Corbyn was not typically a strong performer at PMQs against Theresa May but Johnson’s blustering replies made the opposition leader appear the more statesmanlike of the pair.
Then, Johnson was subjected to some forensic interrogation from two former senior ministers in May’s government — David Gauke and Dominic Grieve, both of them lawyers — who asked some pointed questions about a court case in Scotland connected with his decision to suspend parliament for five weeks from next week.
Gauke and Grieve, it should be noted, are among 21 Conservatives to have been suspended from the parliamentary Conservative party on Tuesday night after voting with opposition lawmakers who want to legislate against a no-deal Brexit. Johnson sidestepped their questions.
Next up, another suspended Conservative, former digital minister Margot James, skewered Johnson over the conduct of his shadowy chief adviser, Dominic Cummings. She reminded Johnson of a famous quote by Margaret Thatcher, who once found herself criticized over the role of an aide. “Advisers advise, ministers decide,” Thatcher said. James suggested that Johnson would do well to heed that advice.
But the most electrifying moment came when a Labour MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who is Sikh, laid into Johnson over controversial comments in a newspaper article when he compared Muslim women who wore face veils to bank robbers “letter boxes.”
When will the Prime Minister finally apologize for his derogatory and racist remarks,” Dhesi demanded.
His peroration was greeted with applause from the opposition benches — highly unusual in the House of Commons. Speaker John Bercow notably did not intervene to prevent the clapping.
At the end of the session, Johnson headed for the exit, perhaps eager to put the ordeal behind him – only to be reminded that his finance minister was about to make an important budget statement and perhaps he ought to stick around to hear it. It was an embarrassing end to a torrid hour.