Lib Dem MPs challenge Boris Johnson on Sue Gray report

It’s been quite the afternoon in the Commons.

Boris Johnson faced sustained criticism over the findings of the Sue Gray report. The most effective were the contributions that fought his fire and bluster with ice rather than more fire.

That’s why Theresa May’s takedown of her successor was so effective. I will never forgive her for what she did at the Home Office, nor in her pursuit of a hard Brexit, but her contribution today was brilliant, asking him if he had read the rules, ignored them or didn’t think they applied to him.

Ian Blackford just had to make it all about him, daring the Speaker to throw him out of the Chamber for saying the PM had misled Parliament. The rule may be daft. But it is the rule, and not to observe it when we are talking about rulebreaking seems illogical. There is a debate to be had around whether that rule is fit for purpose when the man at the despatch box has plainly misled Parliament, but it should have been about Boris today, not Blackford. They are both experts at meaningless bluster and not so good at the incisive point.

There were two brilliant contributions from Ed Davey. He really spoke up for all of us who had followed the rules, often in searingly painful, heartbreaking circumstances.

Later he added that the PM’s performance had been “horrific.”


Christine Jardine said that people were livid not just at the culture of rule-breaking in No 10, but at the dodging of accountability by the Prime Minister.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Brad Barrows 31st Jan '22 - 11:03pm

    I wish Ian Blackford had not spoiled his powerful contribution by childishly getting himself sent out, but it is ironic that he gets put out for telling the truth in Parliament while Boris gets to stay when he is clearly lying to Parliament.

  • John Marriott 1st Feb '22 - 9:46am

    Come on Caron, it’s clear you don’t particularly like the wee man; but surely he had a point. In telling Parliament initially that no lockdown rules were broken, in the light of the Grey Report, the Prime Minister was clearly not telling the truth. As for Mr Blackford’s refusal to take the Speaker’s ‘advice’, I seem to think that he jumped before he was pushed. He may have made a fool of himself in some people’s eyes; but I bet that many people watching, particularly north of the border; but elsewhere as well, would have raised a quiet cheer when he stuck to his guns.

  • I appreciate that this is LDV but, with no mention of Starmer’s evisceration of Johnson, this article fails as an serious comment on yesterday’s debate..

    IMO Blackford didn’t ‘play to the gallery’ he pointed out the obvious failing of an archaic rule that currently allows outright lies but prevents any censure of the liar..Someone needed to say it!

  • George Thomas 1st Feb '22 - 12:08pm

    There are many people waking up to the idea that the Westminster system protects bad behaviour but condemns pointing bad behaviour out which is presumably exactly what Ian Blackford wanted. If Westminster and those in it are unwilling to adapt and make a better effort of it then maybe there is an alternative…

    I still think too much is being said about Boris Johnson and not enough about how this is a large section of the Conservative Party. I don’t want whoever comes next to perform the same magic trick Boris did in pretending the past 10 years were a completely different party.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '22 - 12:14pm

    @Brad Barrows
    Ironic indeed but maybe Blackford did it on purpose to emphasise the ridiculous situation.

    Churchill used the phrase ‘terminological inexactitude’

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '22 - 12:58pm

    Boris Johnson is the appointed leader, at the moment, of a very dangerous group of Tory MPs and it will take the combined effort of all MPs opposed to this group to prove to the electorate what a mistake they made in giving them the power they did at the last election, not much chance of that happening? well I can live in hope!
    [email protected] Amersham and North Shropshire offer some of that hope.

  • Charles Smith 1st Feb '22 - 1:20pm

    Publication of Gray’s report was delayed when the Metropolitan Police force launched its own investigation last week into the most serious alleged breaches of coronavirus rules. The force said it had asked for Gray’s report to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by detectives “to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

    Johnson’s opponents accused the government of trying to water down a report that could trigger an attempt to oust the prime minister by his own party. Some Conservative lawmakers say they will push for a no-confidence vote if Gray finds Johnson was at fault or lied to Parliament about his actions.

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '22 - 1:29pm

    @George Thomas “I still think too much is being said about Boris Johnson”
    Hear hear! The Lib Dems and Labour seem content to position themselves as “We’re not Boris”, and that risks being completely undermined by a new Tory leader saying, “Neither am I”. 🙁

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '22 - 2:15pm

    I can only state my own personal view and that is, as someone of a certain age, I have more than disliked Boris Johnson and his take on politics for many years and will be relieved if and when he receives the justice he deserves for his behaviour over that time.

  • George Thomas 1st Feb '22 - 2:41pm

    Just a follow up to what I said earlier:

    In response to tweet which says: “Speaker Lindsay Hoyle says the PM won’t have to correct the record after his Jimmy Savile slur at Keir Starmer. ”

    “The differential treatment of Johnson and Blackford created a session where falsehood is rewarded and honesty is punished. That just can’t go on.” Ian Dunt, columnist at The I Newspaper.

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