Boris Johnson was told off by House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle after the Prime Minister attempted to ask Sir Keir Starmer whether he supported the reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn’s membership to the Labour Party. The Speaker firstly reminded Mr Johnson he was the one supposed to answer questions, being during Prime Minister’s Questions time. But as the Prime Minister tried to hit back, Sir Lindsay threatened Mr Johnson with cutting him off.
The Speaker said: “I think I’ll point to the fact that it’s actually Prime Minister’s Questions, not the Leader of the Opposition’s questions.”
Mr Johnson argued his was a “reasonable question” to be put to the leader of the Labour Party.
But Sir Lindsay blasted: “I think I’ll make that decision, Prime Minister.
“And thankfully we’ve got the sound, we don’t want to lose it.”
The Speaker muted the Prime Minister’s virtual connection during last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Sir Keir Starmer pressed Boris Johnson over the leaking from his Government of details of COVID-19 restrictions.
He said: “Over the summer, we saw repeated leaks about which areas would go into restrictions. The Prime Minister’s plans to go into a second national lockdown were leaked all over the national papers, resulting in a truly chaotic press conference and we’ve seen more leaking in the last 24 hours.
“This serial leaking is causing huge anxiety to millions of people about what’s going to happen next. Now I know there’s supposed to be an inquiry under way, but can the Prime Minister tell us: is he any closer to working who in his Government is leaking this vital information?”
Mr Johnson responded: “Mr Speaker, I’ve already told you that as soon as we have any information about anybody leaking, we’ll bring it to the House.
“But I may say, I think (Sir Keir) is really concentrating on trivia when what the people of this country want is to see his support, and the support of politicians across the House, for the tough measures that we’re putting in to defeat coronavirus.”
The Labour leader also urged the Prime Minister to “come clean” on how much money had been wasted on unusable PPE equipment.
He said: “For weeks I’ve raised concern about the Government spraying taxpayers’ money on contracts that don’t deliver.
“The problem is even worse than we thought. This week, a Cabinet Office response suggests that the Government purchased not 50 million unusable items of protective equipment, but 180 million.
“And a new report this morning by the National Audit Office identifies a further set of orders totalling £214 million for face masks for the NHS that it can’t use.
“So will the Prime Minister come clean – how many hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on equipment that can’t be used?”
Mr Johnson responded: “Actually, 99.5 percent of the PPE, the 32 billion items of PPE that this country has secured, conformed entirely to our clinical needs once we checked it.”
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Sir Keir then suggested Boris Johnson either does not know how much taxpayers’ money has been wasted or “he doesn’t care”, before he highlighted concerns over actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
He said: “Where do I start on this one? Last week we learnt suppliers with political connections were 10 times more likely to be awarded Government contracts.
“This week, the Sunday Times reports that the Health Secretary appointed one of his closest friends to a key advisory role. This friend is also a major shareholder in a firm that specialises in lobbying the Government on behalf of its clients, and some of those clients have secured tens of millions of pounds of Government contracts during the pandemic.
“Was the Prime Minister aware of this apparent conflict of interest?”
Mr Johnson said any conflicts of interest would be evident from the publication of the contract details, adding in the Commons: “He just seems to be attacking the Government for shifting heaven and earth, as we did, to get the medicines, to get the PPE, to get the equipment, to get the treatments that this country needed.”
The Prime Minister also claimed Sir Keir’s remarks revealed a “deep underlying Labour hatred of the private sector”, to which the Labour leader replied: “No-one is knocking the private sector, the Government is knocking the taxpayer.”