Hoyle breaks Commons tradition as SNP’s Ian Blackford allowed to call Boris Johnson ‘liar’

Ian Blackford labels Boris Johnson a ‘liar’ in the Commons

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SNP MP Ian Blackford said “the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a liar” as he voiced his support for a motion that would see Boris Johnson referred to the Commons’ Committee of Privileges for “misleading” Parliament. Commons rules state that referring to a Member of Parliament as a liar is “unparliamentary language” and whoever uses the term is normally asked to either withdraw their comments or leave the Chamber. But despite the custom, Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who previously booted out Mr Blackford for using similar language, did not intervene on this occasion.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Blackford said: “Mr Speaker, there is one reason why it is so important that this motion is debated and passed today.

“Because, at the very heart of the scandal there is one thing that needs to be said, one thing that needs to be heard and it is the very reason that we all need to act.

“The reason is this ‘that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a liar.”

He added: “I generally do not say that lightly and I do not say it that loosely”

“I honestly believe that it is right that we are slow to use that word, but I equally believe that it is right that we should never be slow to say it and to call it out when it is so obviously true.”

Mr Blackford then continued: “Members across this House know it to be true and the public have long known that.

“And that is why it needs to be said today and why we all need to act.

“Because Mr Speaker every single day in this Chamber there are motions that come before this house, which are complexed and nuanced.”

Columnist Ian Dunt suggested the break with tradition could have been dictated by the nature of the debate on Boris Johnson facing a potential investigation on misleading Parliament.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Dunt said: “Ian Blackford just called Johnson a liar in the Commons, without being sanctioned by the Speaker.

“Some protests from Tory benches – quite weak. Now silence. It’s actually quite shocking to see this happen if you’ve been following parliament for some time.

I presume the usual rule against this has been suspended because the substance of the debate cannot be explored without that proposition being made.

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“In other words: how do you debate a PM misleading the House without being able to say that he did so?”

He added: “If memory serves – I’m sure someone will correct me otherwise – I think the same thing applied during a debate on Jeremy Hunt’s conduct when he was sec of state for DCMS.

“I think Chris Bryant made that accusation and was allowed to do so on the same basis.”

In light of the Labour’s motion to refer Mr Johnson to the Privileges Committee, Conservative MPs suggested a delay in the investigations until after the full publication of the final Partygate report by Sue Gray, as to allow MPs to have all the facts at their disposal. 

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