An MP calling the prime minister a liar in parliament would normally have serious consequences – but not today.
“The prime minister of the United Kingdom is a liar,” said SNP House of Commons leader Ian Blackford. He was speaking during the debate to decide whether Boris Johnson should be the subject of a parliamentary investigation into whether he lied to MPs about Downing Street parties during the coronavirus lockdowns. MPs later voted for a probe by the Privileges Committee once the police have finished their investigation.
In a rare move that breaks with convention, the speaker of the House of Commons permitted MPs to call the prime minister a “liar” during the debate. Parliamentary etiquette usually states that such accusatory language, including branding someone a liar, “breaks the rules of politeness in the House of Commons chamber”. Other examples of banned, unparliamentary language include bastard, drunk, pipsqueek, rat, traitor and hypocrite.
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“… at the very heart of this scandal there is one thing that needs to be said. One thing that needs to be heard. And it’s the very reason that we all need to ask,” said Blackford, before branding the prime minister a liar.
“I genuinely don’t say that lightly, and I don’t say it loosely… Because members across this house know it to be true, and the public have long known it to be true” the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber continued.
“The prime minister came to this house and denied that there were any parties at 10 Downing Street during the long Covid lockdown. Typically and tellingly, he hid behind his staff saying it. He told us that he was given firm reassurance that no parties had happened, that no rules had been broken.