Boris Johnson was branded “a racist” with “a record of dishonesty” by the SNP’s Ian Blackford.
The frontrunner to replace Theresa May was not in the Commons when Blackford challenged the prime minister over past comments by the controversial former foreign secretary on Wednesday.
Raising comments Johnson had written in 2005 in the Spectator, in which he said the idea of a Scottish PM was “utterly outrageous”, Blackford said: “Does the PM agree with the frontrunner set to succeed her that the Scottish people are a verminous race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?”
He went on to call Johnson a racist, citing previous statements by Johnson in the Telegraph in which he compared hijab-wearing Muslim women to “letterboxes” and “bankrobbers”.
He said: “This is a time of challenge so I ask does the PM realise that the member is not only a racist, he is stoking division and has a record of dishonesty.”
He added: “Words matter and actions matter. The man who published those words in his magazine the PM was fit for the office of her top diplomat and he hasn’t stopped there.
“He said that Scots should be banned from being PM – banned from being PM, Mr Speaker – and that a pound spent in Croydon is worth more than a pound spent in Strathclyde. This is a man who is not fit for office.”
Speaker John Bercow warned Blackford to be “extremely careful” with his language and asked Blackford to withdraw the comments but he refused.
Johnson was not in the chamber when the row broke out.
Bercow said: “If the right honourable gentleman is referring to a current member but if he is, he should be extremely careful in the language and he should have notified the member in advance, but I would urge him to weigh his words.
“Indeed, I think it would be much better if for now if he withdrew any allegation of racism against any particular member. I don’t think this is the forum and I don’t think it is the right way to behave.”
Blackford said that he had informed Johnson of his plan to call him racist, and added: “But the member has called Muslim women letterboxes, described African people as having watermelon smiles and another disgusting slur that I wouldn’t dignify by repeating.
“If that’s not racist I don’t know what is. “Does the PM honestly believe this man is fit for the office of prime minister?”
May replied that the aim of PMQs was “to ask the prime minister about the actions of government” and said “that is what he should be asking about”.
She added: “I believe any Conservative prime minister will be better for Scotland than the Scottish Nationalist Party.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.