The Commons speaker has been forced to reprimand Boris Johnson following his comments about Labour’s position on Kill the Bill protests.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle interrupted Prime Minister’s Questions to rebuff remarks Johnson made accusing Labour of supporting the violent protests in Bristol over the weekend.
Johnson was responding to a question by the leader of the opposition on recent cuts to army personnel numbers when he began accusing Labour of siding with violent demonstrators protesting against a new bill giving the police increased powers to stop peaceful protests.
“We’re getting on with the job of recruiting more police, 20,000 more police, I think we’ve done 7,000 already, while they’re (Labour) out on the streets at demonstrations shouting ‘Kill the Bill’.
“That’s the difference between his party and my party. We’re pro-vax, we’re low tax and when it comes to defence, we’ve got your backs,” Johnson said.
Sir Lindsay swooped in to rebuff the prime minister. He said: “I must say – and I genuinely mean this – I do not believe any member of the parliament would support that Kill the Bill.
“We are all united in this House in the support and the protection the police do for us and nobody would shy away from that”.
This is the third reprimand by the Commons speaker in as many weeks.
Last week, Sir Lindsay accepted a point of order claiming Johnson had misrepresented Labour’s stance on the very same topic. Back in February, the prime minister was cut off mid-sentence after mocking the SNP over its record on tackling poverty.
During today’s exchange, Sir Keir Starmer accused Johnson of “playing with the numbers”, adding: “He knows very well that the numbers have been cut.”
He continued: “The trouble is, you just can’t trust the Conservatives to protect our armed forces.”
Sir Keir added: “The 2015 manifesto – ‘we will maintain the size of the regular armed services’, the 2017 manifesto – ‘we will maintain the overall size of the armed forces’, 2019 – the prime minister – ‘we will not be cutting our armed services in any form’.
“But the truth is, since 2010 our armed forces have been cut by 45,000 and our Army will now be cut to its lowest level in 300 years.”
Responding to Sir Keir’s question of whether he is “ashamed” of the “cut”, the prime minister said: “This Conservative government is massively proud of the investment that we have made in our armed forces which, as I say, is the biggest uplift since the Cold War.”
He added: “We’re investing in the future, and yes of course we’ve had to make some tough decisions, but that is because we believe in our defences and we believe that they should be more than merely symbolic.”