Angela Rayner Urges Raab To 'Grow A Backbone' And Oust Boris Johnson

The Labour deputy leader accused the prime minister of fleeing the UK following by-election defeats.
Rayner and Raab spar at PMQs
Rayner and Raab spar at PMQs
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Labour’s Angela Rayner has urged Dominic Raab to “grow a backbone” and tell Boris Johnson “the game is up” after the government suffered two humiliating by-election losses.

The Labour deputy leader, who was standing in for Keir Starmer while the prime minister attends a Nato summit in Madrid, asked the deputy prime minister if he thought the Cabinet would continue to support Johnson’s leadership into the 2030s.

Despite losing two by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton to Labour and the Lib Dems respectively, Johnson told reporters last week that he wanted to lead the party into another two elections.

Rayner told the Commons: “This week the government lost two by-elections in one day, the first in three decades. It’s no wonder that the prime minister has fled the country and left the honourable member to carry the can.

“The people of Wakefield and Tiverton held their own vote of no confidence. The prime minister isn’t just losing the room, he is losing the country.

“But instead of showing some humility, he intends to limp on until the 2030s. So, does he think the Cabinet will prop him up for this long?”

To laughter from the Tory benches, Raab replied: “I gently point out to her that we want this prime minister going a lot longer than she wants the leader of Labour Party.”

He said the Tories still had a working majority of 75 and that “we are focusing on delivering for the British people”.

“We will protect the public from these damaging rail strikes when we have got the scene of Labour frontbenchers joining the picket lines,” he added.

But Rayner went on to say that the public could not “stomach” Johnson for another eight years after Johnson signalled he wanted to stand for another term.

“The truth is what I want for my honourable friend the leader of this opposition is not to be the leader of the opposition, but to be the prime minister of this country,” she said.

“To be honest, it could not come quick enough.

“Britain can’t stomach this prime minister for another eight years. His own backbenchers can’t stomach him for another eight minutes. And if they continue to prop him up, I doubt the voters will stomach him for even eight seconds in the ballot.”

Elsewhere in the exchange, Rayner criticised Raab, who is also the justice secretary, for a row within Cabinet over defence spending.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace has called for the government to increase its spending commitment to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2028, something the prime minister has rejected.

Raab defended the PM for attending the Nato summit, saying he would take “no lessons” from Rayner because of her previous support for Jeremy Corbyn, who was a critic of Nato and the UK’s nuclear programme Trident.

Rayner quipped: “And talking about Nato, where was the honourable member during the situation in Afghanistan? On a sun lounger, that’s where.”

She added: “I’ll take no lectures from the honourable member when it comes to doing your job.”

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