Boris Johnson needs to start behaving like a prime minister, says Sir Nicholas Soames

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Winston Churchill's grandson has said that he is 'appalled' by the language used by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, and has warned it will make it more difficult to get support for Brexit.

Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, Soames fell short of calling for Johnson to resign, but condemned his behaviour.

"It sounds rather pathetic, the one won't stand and call for his resignation after his behaviour. I just don't think it's helpful. It is just going to further destabilise an already a very febrile and very fragile situation."

He apologised to the public on behalf of the prime minister, telling listeners: "I have never felt such a poisonous atmosphere. I deeply regret it and I apologise for it."

He added: "I was absolutely appalled by the whole language and tone of the House yesterday starting off for the attorney general's, in my view, disrespect to the Supreme Court, and not a word of contrition, or humility from the prime minister."

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Soames urged Johnson to "start behaving like a prime minister".

He said: "I have grown up in a House where I believe the job of the prime minister, even under very difficult circumstances, is to try to bring the country together. And what the prime minister did yesterday, was to drive it further apart.

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"I want Boris Johnson to start behaving like a prime minister and what he did yesterday makes what he has to do so much harder, which is to reach out across the House of Commons to build a compromise to get a deal. He needs to calm the thing down.

"I'm afraid the country is being set up for a general election, which will be 'parliament and the judges against the people'."

It follows outrageous remarks when he claimed the best way to honour Jo Cox" is to "get Brexit done".

Brendan Cox, the husband of the murdered MP, condemned Johnson's "sloppy language" and the "growing inferno of rhetoric" in the House of Commons.

In the same programme, Cox said he was "shocked" by Johnson's remarks, but thought they were probably made in the heat of the moment.

"I'm sure on reflection, it's something that he would probably wish he hadn't said. I think it was sloppy language and the wrong thing to say, but I but I don't think that he is an evil man."

He continued: "What isn't legitimate is to co-opt her memory or her beliefs for things that she didn't believe in or didn't say. I was thinking about how Jo would respond to it last night. She would have tried to take a generosity of spirit to it. And thought about how in this moment, you can step back from this growing inferno of rhetoric."

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