Boris Johnson faced questions in the Commons over allegations about his conduct and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford asking: “Are you a liar, Prime Minister?”
Mr Blackford raised the UK Covid death toll at PMQs, arguing “so many people find the Prime Minister’s remark that he would rather let the bodies pile high in their thousands than go into lockdown, utterly, utterly sickening”.
Mr Johnson challenged Mr Blackford to “produce the author”, telling MPs: “Perhaps they’re sitting somewhere in this building. I rather doubt it, because I didn’t say those words.”
Mr Blackford’s question prompted Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to intervene, stating: “Can I just say unfortunately they’re in order, but were not savoury and not what we would expect.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader said: “People are willing to go under oath confirming that the Prime Minister said these exact words… Parliamentary rules stop me from saying that the Prime Minister has repeatedly lied to the public over the last week, but can I ask the question: Are you a liar, Prime Minister?”
Mr Johnson replied: “If he is going to relay that kind of quotation, it is up to him in a place like Parliament to produce the author, the person who claims to have heard it, because I can’t find them, he’s says that they’re willing to go on oath. Perhaps they’re sitting somewhere in this building. I rather doubt it, because I didn’t say those words.
“What I do believe is that a lockdown is a miserable, miserable thing, and I did everything I could to try to protect the British public throughout the pandemic, to protect them from lockdowns, but also to protect them from disease … We grieve, as I know the whole House grieves, for every family that has lost a loved one.”
Mr Johnson added: “It is thanks to that lockdown and the vaccine rollout … that we’re making the progress we are.”
Mr Blackford hit back, accusing the Prime Minister of being “up to his neck in a slump of Tory sleaze” and calling on Mr Johnson to publish details of his flat refurbishment.
He said: “We’ve seen contracts for cronies, texts for tax breaks and cash for curtains.
“The Prime Minister has dodged these questions all week and he’s dodged them again today, but these questions simply are not going to go away – so when exactly was money funnelled through Tory HQ into his personal bank account? When did he pay back this money? Was it an interest-free loan, and who is the donor or donors who originally funded him?
“Is the Prime Minister aware that if he continues to fail to answer these questions, that the Electoral Commission has the powers to prosecute (him)? Will the Prime Minister publish these details today, or is he going to wait until the police come knocking at his door?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I look forward to what the Electoral Commission has to say, but I can tell him that for the rest of it he’s talking complete nonsense.”