Opposition parties push for inquiry into Boris Johnson’s ‘failure to be honest’

Jon Stone
·3-min read
Boris Johnson pictured in the House of Commons on Wednesday during PMQs (via REUTERS)
Boris Johnson pictured in the House of Commons on Wednesday during PMQs (via REUTERS)

Six opposition parties with MPs in the House of Commons are calling for an inquiry into Boris Johnson's "consistent failure to be honest" during parliamentary debates.

The Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National Party as well as Plaid Cymru, the SDLP and Alliance are calling on the Speaker to allow a vote into holding a probe on the prime minister's tendency to mislead parliament.

It comes after a video put together by lawyer Peter Stefanovic fact-checking claims made by the prime minister on a variety of topics was watched millions of times and reported internationally.

The opposition parties single out comments by the prime minister including a January 2020 false claim that the economy had grown "by 73 per cent" under the Tories, a March 2020 false claim that nurses bursaries had been restored, and another in June 2020 that 400,000 fewer families were living in poverty than in 2010.

"It's hard to recall any prime minister who has treated Parliament with the contempt that this one does," said Green MP Caroline Lucas, who organised the letter.

“There is a normalisation of lying to the House which is deeply dangerous, especially coming from an increasingly authoritarian government which is looking at every means to avoid accountability.

“MPs’ job is to hold government to account and we can only do that if ministers give accurate information to the House. That is a core principle of our democracy and it is being undermined by the Prime Minister himself. He is not only showing contempt for Parliament, he is also undermining people’s trust in our system of government. It’s time he was held to account.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer is understood to have been asked to sign the call to Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, but declined.

A Labour source indicated that the party generally did not sign up to initiatives launched by other parties, but added that Sir Keir's team had regularly pulled the prime minister up over falsehoods.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, another signatory of the letter said Mr Johnson was clearly "the most dishonest prime minister in living memory" and that this amounted to "a disaster for the integrity of British politics" that |could damage trust in our politics for decades to come".

Plaid Cymru group leader Liz Saville-Roberts said: “Lies, corruption scandals and a lack of accountability have defined Westminster’s broken politics for years. But never before has trust in politics been so miserably undermined than by Boris Johnson’s catalogue of lies." She said the UK "urgently" needed "a change in the law to stop a further decline in the quality of public debate".

Alliance MP for North Down Stephen Farry MP in particular criticised Mr Johnson's approach to truth around Brexit and Northern Ireland.

“The Prime Minister is setting the tone," he said. "His poor handling of the reasons for the Northern Ireland Protocol have fed a dangerous narrative of betrayal. Our politics is in danger of taking a dangerous Trumpian turn."

Mr Johnson has lost multiple jobs over alleged dishonesty. He was previously sacked from a role at The Times newspaper for allegedly making up a quote, and was sacked from Michael Howard’s shadow cabinet for allegedly lying about an affair with a colleague.

The Speaker’s office declined to comment on correspondence between Sir Lindsay and MPs.

Asked about the claims by the opposition MPs about Mr Johnson's conduct, a government spokesperson said: “The prime minister follows the ministerial code.”

Read More

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Government could claw back Covid cash from European Super League clubs

Boris Johnson vows to ‘make sure’ Super League plans don’t go ahead