POLITICS

Margaret Thatcher Funeral: George Galloway To Disrupt Cancellation Of PMQs To End 'Tidal Wave Of Guff'

15/04/2013 13:41 BST | Updated 15/04/2013 14:27 BST

Controversial MP George Galloway has said he will aim to end the "tidal wave of guff" that greeted the death of Margaret Thatcher by objecting to the cancellation of former Prime Minister's funeral.

He described the Iron Lady as a "wicked woman" telling BBC 2's Daily Politics: "We've already had the recall of parliament with MPs being paid up to £3,700 to fly back from the Caribbean holiday that they were on and then fly back to start their holiday again.

"Now they want to cancel Prime Minister's Questions, it's absurd."

george galloway

George Galloway will take advantage of obscure Commons rules, in order to stop PMQs being cancelled

He added: "There are millions of people in this country hate the very word Thatcher and Thatcherism, which continues to this day."

The Respect MP has said he will try to block a Government motion dropping Commons questions and delaying the start of business to 2.30pm, after the funeral has taken place.

Ministers had hoped the motion, tabled by Leader of the House Andrew Lansley, would go through "on the nod" at the end of Commons business.

However Galloway has said he will take advantage of Commons rules which mean that if one MP shouts "Object", the motion will either have to be withdrawn, allowing PMQs to go ahead as normal, or the Government will have set aside parliamentary time on Tuesday so that it can be debated and voted on.

"It really is imperative that the Prime Minister is questioned, among other things, about his decision to impose a quite unnecessary and expensive early return of Parliament which was simply a hideous outpouring of right-wing eulogies and rants doused in crocodile tears," he wrote on his website.

"I'm glad to see that, like me, more than 100 Labour MPs stayed away from the circus."

With Labour having said that it will not object to the timetable motion, it is still almost certain to go through if it comes to a vote tomorrow.

Nevertheless, Galloway's intervention will once again highlight the strong feelings Lady Thatcher still inspires among both supporters and opponents.

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, London mayor Boris Johnson, and businessman Gerald Ronson, who was jailed for his part in the Guinness shares scandal, are among the latest confirmed guests for the funeral of Baroness Thatcher.

The latest list released last night by No 10 also includes Formula One boss Sir Frank Williams, Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and the broadcaster Martyn Lewis.

There is a raft of military top brass including Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, and former head of the Army General Sir Mike Jackson.

Among the foreign dignitaries attending are the Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Jaber Mubark Al-Sabah, the son of the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al Sabah, and Italian prime minister Mario Monti.

Other confirmed guests include Antiques Roadshow presenter Hugh Scully, the artist Michael Noakes who painted Lady Thatcher's portrait, and the writer William Shawcross.

The veteran opinion pollster Sir Robert Worcester is on the list as are the senior Labour MPs Frank Field and Keith Vaz.

There are places for the businessmen Lord Sterling of Plaistow, Sir Anthony Bamford and Stuart Wheeler - a former Tory Party backer who switched to Ukip.

Lady Annabel Goldsmith, the widow of the businessman and Referendum Party founder Sir James Goldsmith, will be there as will Lady Solti, the widow of conductor Sir George Solti.

The Prime Minister's press spokesman this morning declined to comment on Galloway's planned intervention.

"There will be a procedure to come before the House," the spokesman told reporters. "How individual members respond is a matter for them.

"There has been agreement through the usual channels that the usual order of business for the House on Wednesday should be altered.

"It has been agreed across the parties. The Prime Minister's view is that that is the right thing to do."

Asked about reported plans for anti-Thatcher protests to coincide with the funeral, the spokesman said only that David Cameron regarded so-called "celebrations" of the former PM's death as "disgraceful".

The spokesman confirmed that an official estimate of the cost to taxpayers of the funeral will not be made public until after the event has taken place.

Reports have suggested that the ceremonial funeral could cost as much as £10 million, but no official figure has been released by the Government. Part of the cost is to be met by a contribution from the Thatcher estate.

Cameron's official spokesman told a daily Westminster press briefing: "The Government has not given an estimate. What the Government will do after the funeral is publish the cost to the public purse."

Challenged over whether a fixed budget should be made public before the event, to ensure that expenditure is properly controlled, the spokesman said: "When it comes to costs, it would be considered pretty extraordinary by many people here in the UK and abroad if we did not mark her passing in the manner that we are doing."

Asked whether Downing Street was concerned that relatively few heads of government from major countries have so far confirmed that they will attend the funeral, the spokesman said: "Not at all. I think you can see from the guests who have already confirmed that they are attending, and from the breadth of geographical representation, that it says a very great deal about Thatcher's global stature."

The spokesman declined to comment on calls for a review of the way in which former prime ministers are honoured after their deaths.

The process of planning the final arrangements for the funeral was still under way, with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude chairing a daily Whitehall committee this morning, he said.

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