Boris Johnson ordered to ‘sit down’ by furious speaker as PMQs descends into total farce

Watch: Furious Lindsay Hoyle orders Boris Johnson to sit down

Boris Johnson was ordered to "sit down" by the speaker of the House of Commons during a series of bad-tempered exchanges branded "embarrassing" and "disgusting" on Wednesday.

The prime minister sparked uproar among MPs by appearing to accuse Keir Starmer of misconduct, something not allowed in the House of Commons, before claiming he actually said "Mish-conduct" in reference to a law firm linked to Starmer called Mishcon de Reya.

The unseemly exchanges bordered on the farcical at points, with speaker Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly having to interject and ordering the prime minister to withdraw any false accusations.

'I'm in charge, prime minister'

The row erupted after Johnson and Starmer clashed over the issue of MPs' standards, with the Labour leader asking whether the PM would crack down on the issue of lucrative second jobs for MPs.

In response, Johnson quizzed Starmer about his own links to law firm Mishcon de Reya.

"Talking of cover ups," Johnson said: "I'm sorry Mr Speaker, but we have not heard why the honourable gentleman has ... " but was cut off by Hoyle before he could finish his sentence.

lindsay hoyle
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle shouted at the prime minister and told him to 'sit down' during a rowdy session of prime minister's questions. (

Hoyle told the PM: “I don’t want to fall out about it, I’ve made it very clear – it is prime minister’s questions, it’s not for the opposition to answer your questions. "This is PMQs. We play by the rules here, don't we? Stop disrespecting the House.

“Whether we like it or not those are the rules of the game that we’re all into and we play by the rules, don’t we? And we respect this House, so let’s respect the House.”

After Johnson attempted to raise Starmer's conduct again, the speaker shouted: “Prime minister, sit down. I’m not going to be challenged, you may be the prime minister of this country but in this House I’m in charge.”

It didn't end there.

Further heated exchanges were triggered after Starmer questioned if the PM would back an investigation into contracts given to Randox or “vote for another cover-up”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday November 17, 2021.
Boris Johnson was repeatedly berated by the Speaker. (PA) (PA)

The awarding of contracts to Randox, for whom the disgraced former MP Owen Paterson was a paid consultant — has been central to claims of "Tory sleaze".

In response, Johnson repeatedly accused Starmer of “Mish-conduct”, which prompted calls from the Labour benches for the comment to be withdrawn.

When asked by the speaker if he wished the withdraw the allegation of misconduct, a smiling Johnson responded that he had actually said "Mish-conduct".

The Catch-up sign up
The Catch-up sign up

During the rowdy scenes, the speaker was forced to halt proceedings several times to order MPs to calm down, at one point even invoking the murder of Sir David Amess as a reason for the House to behave in a more civil manner.

The speaker added: “I don’t think this has done this House any good today. I’ll be quite honest, I think it’s been ill-tempered, I think it shows the public that this House has not learnt from the other week, I need this House to gain respect but it starts by individuals showing respect for each other.”

The exchanges were branded embarrassing by opposition MPs.

Senior SNP MP Pete Wishart said: "The prime minister embarrassing himself in only the way he can. The days of spectacularly unfunny faux-buffoonery is most definitely coming to an end."

Labour's Emma Lewell-Buck called it a "disgrace" and said the PM "shames his office daily".

Watch: Minister - MPs can work 20 hours a week on second jobs under PM’s plan