Theresa May Laid Into Boris Johnson During The Debate Over Lying To Parliament

And she did it without even mentioning the ex-MP and former PM's name.
Theresa May slammed Boris Johnson without even mentioning his name in the Commons on Monday
Theresa May slammed Boris Johnson without even mentioning his name in the Commons on Monday
Sky News/Commons

Theresa May delivered a scathing take on Boris Johnson in the Commons on Monday night – without ever even mentioning her successor’s name.

MPs gathered in parliament to vote on the privileges committee’s recommended punishments for Johnson, stripping him of his parliamentary pass – the motion passed by 354 votes to seven.

It came after the committee concluded that the former prime minister deliberately misled his colleagues from the despatch box about parties in Downing Street at the height of the pandemic.

Hours before the vote, MPs were debating the report’s findings, and May began by emphasising the “importance” of the parliamentary debate.

She said: “It’s not easy to sit in on judgement of friends and colleagues. One day, you’re judging the behaviour – the next day, you might be standing next to them in the queue in the members’ tea room.

“I know it is not easy because as prime minister, I had to judge, take decisions based on judgements about the behaviour of friends and colleagues. Decisions which affected their lives and potentially their careers.

“But friendship, working together, should not get in the way of what is right.”

Johnson and May were thought to have a pretty tumultuous relationship – she appointed him as her foreign secretary, only for him to resign in protest at her handling of the Brexit negotiations.

Once he was appointed as her successor, the leader of the Tory party and PM, she regularly spoke out against him from the backbenches.

Still, the MP for Maidenhead continued, and praised the “committee for their painstaking work and for their dignity in their face of slurs on their integrity”.

At this point, the House murmured in agreement, with chair of the committee Harriet Harman nodding in appreciation of May’s sentiment (the committee accused Johnson in its report of trying to attack its members ahead of the report’s release).

Former prime minister May continued: ″This committee report matters, this debate matters, and this vote matters.

“They matter because they strike at the heart of the bond of trust and respect between the bond of parliament that underpin the workings of this place and this democracy.”

May also claimed the public’s trust in parliament is “eroded” if MPs are seen trying to save the careers of people who have been found guilty of wrongdoing, citing the Owen Paterson saga which essentially triggered Johnson’s resignation from Downing Street last year.

She pointedly said, “we are all responsible for our own actions” too – possibly a reference to Johnson’s repeated claims that he did not intentionally lie to MPs about parties in Downing Street.

She added: “The decision of the House on this report is important. It is important to show the public that there is not one rule for them and another for us.”

May also suggested MPs have a “greater” responsibility than most to uphold the rules and set an example – perhaps a stab at how Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson were all fined for breaching Covid lockdown rules last year.

She also took a subtle swipe at the current prime minister, calling on the Conservatives to “show that we are prepared to act when one of our own, however senior, is found wanting”.

Sunak was controversially absent from the vote, along with most of his government.

May continued: “Following an unsettling period in our political life, support for the report of the privileges committee will be a small but important step in restoring people’s trust in members of this house and of parliament.”

And her carefully put together speech did not go unnoticed on Twitter, with many users pointing out her “real leadership”.

However, not everyone was here for it. Some were keen to remind others that May did appoint Johnson to her own cabinet as foreign secretary, years before he got into No.10 himself.


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