How Boris Johnson's Week From Hell In Parliament Went Down

From bad, to worse, to "please make it stop".
Boris Johnson during a visit to Scotland on Friday
Boris Johnson during a visit to Scotland on Friday
PA Wire/PA Images

It may have been one of Boris Johnson’s first weeks in parliament as prime minister, but it’s fair to say that it was a doozy. Seriously, the PM’s week in Westminster went from bad, to worse, to ‘please make it stop’.

Been busy this week doing something other than watching parliament tear itself apart? (Probably a wise decision, to be fair.) Never fear – here’s everything you need to know about how Johnson’s week from hell went down.


Shoes freshly-polished and new lunchboxes in tow (we’re just guessing here), MPs trotted back to Westminster on Tuesday after the summer recess like kids on their first day back to school.

And, just like school kids, it didn’t take long for them to start causing carnage when they were all back together.

Trouble-maker-in-chief amongst Johnson’s ranks (on Tuesday afternoon at least) was Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee, who snatched away the PM’s paper-thin majority in the Commons when he joined the Liberal Democrats just hours after parliament returned.

Adding insult to injury, Lee revealed his decision by crossing the floor of the Commons while the prime minister was giving a speech to MPs, repping for everyone has ever dreamed of sticking two fingers up to their boss while quitting.

Normally, this would have been the biggest news of the week – a PM losing their majority is a *big deal*. But for BoJo, it was just the beginning.

Just hours later, MPs – including 21 rebel Conservatives – voted in favour of a motion to take control of the parliamentary agenda away from the government – a move intended to give MPs the chance to introduce a bill to block a no-deal Brexit.

As you may have guessed, Johnson – who has vowed to deliver Brexit “do or die” on October 31 – was not particularly keen on this plan which, if successful, would see him forced to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Among those in the naughty corner were chancellor-of-just-a-few-weeks-ago Philip Hammond, father of the House Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames – Winston Churchill’s actual grandson. (You know, who the former Tory MP Johnson is obsessed with/wrote a book about).

In case you didn’t realise, all of this means that Johnson not only lost his very first vote in parliament as PM, but also managed to lose 22 MPs in less than 24 hours. Not the best first day back to work after summer, then…

Jacob Rees-Mogg relaxing in the Commons on Tuesday night
Jacob Rees-Mogg relaxing in the Commons on Tuesday night

Meanwhile Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of Johnson’s posse of hard Brexiteers and leader of the House of Commons, was clearly taking the whole affair *very* seriously. So seriously, in fact, he was forced to have a little lie down on the frontbench.

Good thing no-one noticed...


A new day and a fresh start for the prime minister? Things could only get better, right?

Maybe not. On Wednesday, Johnson appeared at his first PMQs as leader – a historic occasion that will almost certainly be remembered for the moment he was absolutely destroyed by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi over *those* comments he made about women who wear the burka.

“For those of us who from a young age have had to endure or face up to being called names such as ‘towel head’, or ‘Taliban’, or coming from ‘bongo-bongo land’, we can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letter boxes’,” the Labour backbencher challenged the PM.

“Rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks, which have led to have led to a spike in hate crime?”

But it didn’t end there for Johnson. That night, he was hit with yet another blow when MPs successfully pushed the bill to block a no-deal Brexit through the House, leaving it one step closer to becoming law. (A move the PM said would hand control to the EU, leading to “more dither, more delay, more confusion”.)

When Johnson tried to hit back, tabling a motion for an early general election, he was roundly rejected. With Labour saying they would not back a snap poll until a no-deal exit was ruled out in law, many of the party’s MPs, joined by the SNP, abstained from the vote, denying the PM the 434 votes he needed to get it across the line. Ouch.


Jo Johnson, left, with the prime minister
Jo Johnson, left, with the prime minister
Leon Neal via Getty Images

Johnson-junior – a vocal supporter of a second referendum – raised eyebrows last month when he accepted the role as universities minister from his Brexiteer brother, also taking a seat at the cabinet table.

But in a statement on Thursday, Jo said he had been “torn between family loyalty and the national interest” in recent weeks. “It’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP and Minister,” he tweeted.

In terms of optics, it doesn’t get much worse – the prime minister’s own brother quitting over concerns about the direction the government is going in.

Capping off the day, Johnson was handed the most British brush-off anyone has seen since he was heckled in a garden centre.

Following a bizarre speech in Yorkshire in front of a wall of police officers (one of whom almost fainted), where he insisted he would rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay Brexit, the prime minister was welcomed by one of the locals with a warm handshake and the greeting: “Please leave my town.”


Seemingly undeterred by the Commons’ refusal to back his calls for a general election (MPs will vote again on Monday), Johnson appeared to start his election campaign in earnest on Friday during a visit to Scotland.

But the day resulted in yet more humiliation, as after a week spent losing control of parliament, Boris Johnson ended up struggling to take charge of a bull, which then knocked into a plainclothes police officer.

Boris Johnson leads a bull around in Aberdeenshire
Boris Johnson leads a bull around in Aberdeenshire
WPA Pool via Getty Images

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