Johnson urged to resign as Starmer says PM 'never takes responsibility'

Sir Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson during PMQs on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson urged to resign as Keir Starmer says PM ‘never takes responsibility’ Parliament TV

Boris Johnson has once again been urged to resign after breaking his own lockdown rules during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for the Prime Minister to go as he accused him of not taking responsibility for “his words or actions”.

The issue of partygate was raised in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Johnson on Tuesday apologised after he was hit by a fixed penalty notice by police for lockdown breaches.

The Prime Minister was pressed by Starmer on why the former No 10 press secretary Allegra Stratton was among those who had to resign over the scandal while he retains his position in office.

Stratton quit in December last year after footage emerged of her appearing to make light of gatherings that had taken place in Downing Street during the pandemic.

Raising the issue, Starmer told the Commons: “Allegra Stratton laughed at breaking the rules. She resigned. The Prime Minister then claimed he was furious at her behaviour and accepted her resignation.

“Professor Neil Ferguson broke the rules. He also resigned. The Prime Minister said that was the right thing to do.

“The former health secretary (Matt Hancock) broke the rules. He too resigned. The Prime Minister tried to claim he sacked him. Why does the Prime Minister think everybody else’s actions have consequences except his own?”

Johnson hit back at Starmer as he reiterated the apology he made in the Commons on Tuesday.

He said: “I think he is in some kind of Doctor Who time warp. We had this conversation yesterday, Mr Speaker, and I have explained why I bitterly regret receiving an FPN (fixed penalty notice) and I apologised to the House.”

The Prime Minister added that he would “get on with delivering for the British people” and “power out of the problems that Covid has left us”.

Starmer also accused Johnson of opting to “slander decent people” in private but lacking the “backbone to repeat it in public”.

It comes after reports that the Prime Minister took aim at the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as the BBC.

Johnson was accused of a “disgraceful slur” against Justin Welby after the archbishop had been critical of the UK Government’s policy to send migrants to Rwanda.

Attacking the Prime Minister, Starmer told MPs: “He never takes responsibility for his words or actions. They were all there. The Prime Minister also accused the BBC of not being critical enough of Putin.

“Would the Prime Minister have the guts to say that to the face of (BBC reporters) Clive Myrie, Lyse Doucet and Steve Rosenberg, who have all risked their lives day in, day out on the frontline in Russia and Ukraine uncovering Putin’s barbarism?”

Johnson replied: “If (Sir Keir) wants to join the Conservative Party and come and listen to the meetings of the Conservative Party he’s welcome to do it though, as I say, I think he’s a Corbynista in an Islington suit.

“But I said nothing of the kind and I have the highest admiration as a former journalist for what journalists do. I think they do an outstanding job. I think he should withdraw what he just said – it has absolutely no basis or foundation in truth.”

Sir Keir countered: “That’s how he operates: a mealy-mouthed apology when the cameras roll, a vicious attack on those who tell the truth as soon as the cameras are off. Slander decent people in a private room, let the slander spread without the backbone to repeat it in public.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked Boris Johnson if the Scottish public are right to believe he lied about breaking Covid laws.

Blackford said: “Last night the Prime Minister might have convinced his backbenchers and his spineless Scottish Tories to keep him in place for another few weeks, but the public aren’t so easily fooled.

“82% of people in Scotland said they believe the Prime Minister lied to this Parliament and to the public about his lawbreaking Covid parties. Are they right? Or should they not believe their lying eyes?”

The Prime Minister said: “We had a long conversation about this yesterday. I understand the point of his question, but we are going to get on with the job of delivering for the people of the whole of the United Kingdom.”