Tory Rebels Thrown Out By Boris Johnson Hit Back During PMQs

It was an uncomfortable 40 minutes for the prime minister.

Tory rebel MPs kicked out of the party for trying to block a no-deal Brexit used Boris Johnson’s first PMQs session in the Commons to hit back.

But the MPs targeted by Johnson for deselection did not wait long to exact revenge.

Former business minister Margot James invoked Margaret Thatcher to launch an attack on Johnson and his controversial and hardline adviser Dominic Cummings, who is believed to be driving the PM’s new direction.

“The great lady who you and I both revere, Mr Speaker, once said: advisers advise, ministers decide,” she said.

“Can I ask the PM to bear that statement closely in mind in relation to his own chief adviser, Dominic Cummings?”

Her question prompted clapping from Labour MPs.

Johnson attempted to turn the heat on to Jeremy Corbyn, telling her: “We are going to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 and as for the question my honourable friend asked: be in no doubt that we are deciding on a policy to take this country forward not backward as he [Corbyn] would do.”

Ex-justice secretary David Gauke, who is cast as the rebel ringleader, also waded in to make the PM’s 40-minute grilling from MPs uncomfortable.

Turning up the pressure over the Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks in the face of a no-deal Brexit, Gauke said: “The PM has said that the prorogation [suspension] of parliament is nothing to do with Brexit. Is that still his position?”

Johnson insisted parliament’s shutdown allowed the government to bring forward a new programme for government via a Queen’s Speech.

There would be “ample opportunity” to examine the government’s Brexit plans after October 17, Johnson said, adding the government must be “allowed to get on and get a deal”.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, another dissenter, rose minutes later to follow up on Gauke’s question.

It comes amid widespread mistrust on the Tory benches that Johnson is making the effort to strike a fresh agreement with Brussels that would allow the UK to avoid crashing out on October 31.

Grieve said: “Could the prime minister please then explain why it has proved impossible to find any official or minister who is prepared to state that the reasons for prorogation were to pave the way for a Queen’s Speech in the course of the current legal proceedings in which the government is involved?

“Would the PM like to reconsider the answer which he has just given to the House?”

Johnson attempted to avoid the question by stressing that the case – an attempt to use legal means to stop parliament being suspended – which concluded on Wednesday morning, was thrown out.

The rebel MPs, which include ex-chancellor Ken Clarke, decided to sit on the government benches despite Johnson’s decision to suspend them from the party.

Some also took to Twitter to vent their anger.

Having taken control of the order paper, MPs will tonight vote on new legislation which bars Johnson from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal on Halloween.

If the government loses, Johnson will ask MPs to vote for a general election, but opposition MPs will refuse unless a no-deal scenario is ruled out.


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