Conservative minister 'called traitor' by opposition MP during Brexit debate

Robert Buckland QC speaking in the Commons on Tuesday
Robert Buckland QC speaking in the Commons on Tuesday

A Conservative minister has accused another MP of calling him a traitor during a debate on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on Tuesday night.

Robert Buckland QC claimed to have heard the heckle as he was speaking in the last slot before the crucial vote on the Brexit timetable.

Mr Buckland noted at the beginning of his speech that he was “a proud Remainer”, at which point he was interrupted by jeers from the opposition benches in the Commons.

He then interrupted his speech to say: “I’ve just heard a word shouted across the chamber - ‘traitor’.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen at the House of Commons in London, Britain October 22, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Boris Johnson has previously been criticised for using 'inflammatory language' over Brexit. (Reuters)

“Now that concerns me Mr Speaker. It concerns, and should concern, all of us because I do not believe anybody in this place is a traitor,” he added.

“I do not believe anybody, no matter what view they might have is somehow disloyal or dishonourable or dishonest or below the standards that we would expect in this place.

“Because I believe that not only do we call ourselves ‘honourable members’ we are honourable men and women and we come here with the best of intentions.”


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Mikey Smith, the Mirror’s politics correspondent, tweeted that Labour MPs looked “confused” at the accusations as they didn’t appear to hear the insult.

“It’s possible someone did call Robert Buckland a traitor from across the chamber, but I didn’t hear it, and from the confused look on the faces of a lot of Labour MPs, neither did they,” he tweeted.

Last month, Boris Johnson was accused by a Labour MP of “inciting hatred” towards politicians with his use of language over Brexit.

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Paula Sherriff said the Prime Minister’s use of words like “surrender” and “betrayal” to describe opponents of a no-deal Brexit was the same language used in abuse and death threats to MPs like Jo Cox.

“I believe the Prime Minister is inciting hatred towards MPs,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

“We’re not weak, but when you have constant abuse every single day of your life … it’s bound to have an impact on what you do on a day to day basis.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also criticised Mr Johnson for dismissing pleas from Labour MPs to stop using inflammatory language.

“The prime minister’s language and demeanour yesterday was nothing short of disgraceful,” the Labour leader said.

“Three years ago our colleague Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right activist shouting: ‘Britain First. This is for Britain.’

“The language that politicians use matters, it has real consequences.

“To dismiss concerns from honourable members about the death threats they receive, and to dismiss concerns that the language used by the prime minister is being repeated in those death threats, is reprehensible.”