Boris Johnson Refuses To Back Down Amid Fury Over Inflammatory Language

Prime minister admits "tempers need to come down" while insisting he is write to use the language of conflict to describe Brexit opponents.

Boris Johnson has refused to back down from “inflammatory” language which sparked fury in parliament and beyond while insisting “tempers need to come down” in politics.

The prime minister’s triggered widespread condemnation after repeatedly describing laws to block a no-deal Brexit as a “surrender act” while refusing the appeals of MPs who were friends of murdered ex-colleague Jo Cox to tone it down.

Since the vitriolic scenes in the Commons on Wednesday night, a man has been arrested after trying to kick the door of Labour MP Jess Phillips’ office while shouting “fascist”, and the PM’s own sister Rachel Johnson has accused him of using parliament as a “bully pulpit”.

But Johnson has repeated his insistence that the “only” way to “lance the boil” was by seeing through Brexit, in an echo of comments which were seen as a threat in some quarters.

“I need to reach out across the House of Commons,” he told BBC South.

“I think it is fair enough to call the surrender act what it is. I think it is absolutely reasonable.

“But we do need to bring people together, and get this thing done.

“Tempers need to come down, and people need to come together because it’s only by getting Brexit done that you’ll lance the boil, as it were, of the current anxiety and we will be able to get on with the domestic agenda.”

In a separate interview with BBC Look North, Johnson repeatedly refused to resile from his description of the cross-party so-called Benn Act to block no deal.

And he accused MPs on opposition benches of “shouting all sorts of things at me” which were “harsher than that”.

At one point in the debate, Johnson dismissed as “humbug” the Labour MP Paula Sherriff’s concerns that the language of betrayal was being repeated in the daily death threats and abuse she receives.

"When I hear of my friend's murder described as 'humbug', I actually don't feel anger for the PM. I feel pity for those of you who have to tow his line"

Labour's Jess Phillips calls on PM to apologise for language "designed to inflame hatred and division"

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 26, 2019

“Obviously I’m deeply sorry for the threats that MPs face and I think it’s very important we look after them, particularly look after female MPs, the death of Jo Cox was an absolute tragedy which I think bought the House of Commons together in unison,” Johnson said.

“But it’s also important to protect the right of MPs to speak freely in the House of Commons about important political matters and the fact of the so-called Benn Act is that it surrenders our powers.”

He added: “I think if you look at the language I was using, it’s important to be able to use a simple English word like surrender in a parliamentary context to describe a bill that gives the power to the rest of the EU to keep us locked in the EU by their own decision and to decide how long we should be there.”


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