Two times Jo Swinson was awesome today

Today saw Jo Swinson’s first PMQs as leader against our incompetent and awful Prime Minister. She had intended to ask about a constituent’s mother who was having a hell of a time getting settled status despite living in this country for almost half a century.

Just before the end of PMQs,  Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi tackled the Prime Minister about his awful column in which he said horrific things about Muslim women. It’s worth remembering that these comments are not consequence free. Every woman of colour I know, whether she wears a hijab or not, noticed an increase in the racist, islamophobic crap they have to put up with every single day after he wrote that.

Typically, Johnson was incredibly dismissive of the challenge. Then it was Jo’s turn and she absolutely laid into him. 

Unfortunately the embedding feature on Parliament TV isn’t working right now. Here’s a small clip:

Here’s the text.

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD)

The Prime Minister’s response to the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) was appalling. An apology was required, rather than some kind of justification that there is ever any acceptable context for remarks such as the Prime Minister made in that column. He is the Prime Minister of our country. His words carry weight and he has to be more careful with what he says. My constituent Kristin is afraid because her mum, a European citizen, has been struggling to get settled status after 45 years in this country. Our friends, colleagues and neighbours deserve better than his failures and carelessness with language.

The Prime Minister

In the case of his constituent Kristin—

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab)
His?

The Prime Minister

Her constituent Kristin—if she has indeed been here for 45 years, and I am sure she has—should be automatically eligible for settled status. Clearly, it is a difficult case, but the answer is for the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) to bring it to the Home Secretary, and I am sure we can sort it out.

The text alone doesn’t capture how utterly floored Johnson was by Jo’s question. It’s like a surprise to him that he isn’t universally loved.

Later on, during the debate on the Government motion for an election, Jo took apart Johnson’s arguments for an election. A general election, she said, should be held in a responsible manner, after an extension to article 50 had been assured.

She went on to praise the cross party working which had brought about the Bill to block no deal, particularly the Conservatives who had been “treated so shamefully”.

She then made the case for a People’s Vote, saying that no form of Brexit commanded the support of a majority of the British people.

It was the votes of Lib Dems and the SNP which actively prevented the Government prevailing. Labour abstained, but on this occasion that didn’t matter.

And she ignored the misogynist prat who yelled “Sit down, darling” to her.

Two very confident, authentic, genuine, engaging performances. A very good start to her leadership.

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

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14 Comments

  • Yes, Caron, Jo Swinson did extremely well today, and having watched the debates and PMQ’s, in all fairness, I have to say that Mr Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer also did very well.

    As for the ‘Prime Minister’, in office but not in power, Johnson’s disingenuous mendacity seems to have trussed himself up like a turkey ready for Christmas. So much for the superiority strategic brainpower of Eton and the Bullingdon club. Ken Clarke’s put down of him was magnificent and, dangerously, the laughter even came from the Tory benches.

    The question. Will Johnson beat Andrew Bonar Law’s record (PM Oct 1922 – May 1923) as the shortest serving modern Prime Minister ?

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Sep '19 - 11:04pm

    Yes, very good from Jo especially since it could not have been rehearsed.

    The father of one of our councillors has been having similar trouble, after running a business in Britain for decades. No tax returns since he retired several years ago and how does he prove how many months he has been in the UK each year?
    People who are not from the EU expect these hoops and are able to jump through them, but EU nationals have had no reason or obligation to keep travel data etc

  • nigel hunter 5th Sep '19 - 12:13am

    Johnson. Great men do not seek greatness, they get it pushed onto them. He has chased it for a long time..His ego is now satisfied by others with big egos who hope he ..will give them a no deal Brexit. He/they wish us out by 31st to ensure that the EU tax laws that are to be installed at the next session does not hit their tax dodging ploys.

  • Geoffrey Dron 5th Sep '19 - 1:33am

    Yes, Jo’s contribution – I don’t say ‘performance, as that’s more appropriate to a clown like BodgeJob – was very good. LDs have an excellent leader.

    I’ve just revisited the video of Chris Patten’s Newsnight interview of earlier this year. His assessment of Johnson and of the current state of the Tory Party is spot on. It is no place for decent people like CP.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Sep '19 - 8:40am

    An interesting package from Grimsby this morning. Normally these vox pops are poor value, but this one is worth tracking down.

    Up shot. There will be a huge abstention among Labour voters. The Brexit Party will do better than presently being suggested. An extremely large switch to the Liberal Democrats.

    All of this is now going on beneath the surface of Westminster reportage? There is radio and TV silence about size of the Lib Dem presence in the next Parliament.

    It is quite easy to identify 100 seats where – using the Euro results – we will win.

    If you factor in the Brexityness of the sitting Tory, plus the large scale abstention of the Labour vote, you begin to see clearly our 200 seat potential. This without the considerable surge there will be in the Brexit Party vote when ‘no deal’ is ‘outlawed’.

    This projects as a serious contender for leader of the largest Party in the House of Commons and the person the Queen invites to form a Government.

    I suggest the way to break the present image of the result held in Westminster journalism is for us to publish our calculations and name these 200 seats.

    We have to shift the perception of Jo as a ‘Prime Minister’ maker into a serious contender for No 10.

  • Andrew McCaig 5th Sep '19 - 9:57am

    Meanwhile the Guardian still ignores Jo. I am afraid we will not not easily get our message across compared to Labour in this General Election. (nothing wrong with focussing the article on the MP who asked the question but showing the support from other Parties would have strengthened the case)

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/04/boris-johnson-urged-to-apologise-for-muslim-women-letterboxes-article

  • Peter Kenny 6th Sep '19 - 7:05pm

    It’s great to see the Tories in the ropes. You’re wrong about the role of Lib Dem and SNP votes in stopping the government’s attempt to call an election. Under the FTPA a motion to have a GE needs 2/3 of MPs to vote for it – abstention and voting against are essentially the same in their effects.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Sep '19 - 11:06pm

    Boris Johnson is clearly making an impression in that the Israeli PM confuses him with Boris Yeltsin.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Sep '19 - 10:05am

    Peter Kenny 6th Sep ’19 – 7:05pm Yes, and we must go further to defend the Fixed Term Parliament Act. A variety of Tories in Parliament and in the press are saying that the Act is ONLY about the coalition which is wrong.
    David Steel wanted fixed terms long before the coalition at Westminster. He got it for the Scottish Parliament among other constitutional necessities such as what he called “a fair electoral system”. With a pre-arranged package of constitutional measures and agreeable personalities, the coalition in the Edinburgh parliament worked well.
    I have not yet seen David Cameron’s book entitled “for the Record”, which is advertised as being about the 2016 referendum. We will see whether he disagrees with Nick Clegg’s comments in “Politics Between the Extremes”. In chapter 5 ‘Taking Power from the Powerful’ he explains that he insisted that for the Fixed Term Parliament Act he wanted implementation promptly for the reason given above, but that other constitutional measures, such as electoral reform of the Commons and reform of the Lords suffered from delays and the actions of Tory donors.
    There was also oppositionitis from Labour (under Ed Miliband) although the measures were designed to attract Labour support.

  • “and we must go further to defend the Fixed Term Parliament Act. “

    There is a good HoC Briefing Paper from 2017 on the FTPA(*), it is worth a read to understand more about the intent of Act and some of the views of those that wish to repeal it.

    (*) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06111

  • Tony Greaves 12th Sep '19 - 7:46pm

    I thought that Jo’s speech on Monday on the motion for an election, in a very agitated and generally hostile House of Commons, was quite brilliant. Both the House, and some of the media, are beginning to take notice of her.

  • @ Andrew McCaig “Meanwhile the Guardian still ignores Jo”.

    Do you actually read the Guardian, Andrew ?

    “Why it’s time to take the Liberal Democrats seriously again
    The Guardian·1 day ago

    Liberal Democrats poised to back revoking article 50
    The Guardian·2 days ago

    The Lib Dems’ plan to revoke article 50 is as undemocratic as the race to no deal
    The Guardian·2 days ago

    More for The Guardian Jo Swinson”

  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '19 - 7:53pm

    The Sunday Times magazine has a photo of David Cameron the cover, but there is also a interview with Jo Swinson, by a journalist who refers to the constituency where she lives without saying whether that is in England or Scotland. Obviously not Wales.
    “Shea butter” is an edible natural moisturer, part of Anita Roddick’s campaigning. In her writings she gives credit to her husband, who cared about an area of high unemployment in Glasgow and decided to do what he could to do something. He opened a soap factory as a commercial enterprise. Profitable or loss making it was his idea.
    The entire business was sold to the kind of company she disapproved of.
    Can Ruth Davidson be recruited to the Lib Dems? “She’s not a Conservative who would be very happy in Boris Johnson’s Conservative party, it was obviously a factor in the timing of her resignation.”
    “The class-bound Labour Party has run its course. It is time for a Liberal revival as one of the two great, historic British political parties.”

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