SNP Westminster leader brands ‘racist’ Boris Johnson ‘unfit for office’ during PMQs

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford in the House of Commons.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford in the House of Commons. - Credit: Parliament TV

SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford has launched an attack on Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions, causing a storm in the House of Commons as he branded him a 'racist' and 'not fit for office'.

In a stinging attack on Johnson in the House of Commons, Blackford asked: "Does the prime minister agree with the front runner set to succeed her that the Scottish people are a verminous race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?"

He was referencing lines from a poem published in The Spectator in 2004 which has been recirculated online over the past week.

While Johnson did not make the comments, he would have approved them in the publication in his role as editor.

In a blunt response, May ignored the remarks to trot out the Tory party line at the despatch box.

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She replied: "The Conservative and Unionist Party takes the people of every part of this UK not only seriously, but we welcome the contribution from people of every part of this UK, because that is what makes the UK the great country it is and long may Scotland remain part of it."

But Blackford wasn't finished as he rose to his feet again to continue his attack on the leadership hopeful.

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"Well of course words matter and actions matter. The man who published those words in his magazine, the prime minister thought was fit for the office of a top diplomat and he hasn't stopped there.

"He said that Scots should be banned from being prime minister... and that a pound spent in Croydon was worth more than a pound spent in Strathclyde. This is a man who is not fit for office."

He continued: "The ultimate measure of a person is not how they stand in a moment of comfort but in times of challenge and this is a time of challenge."

As he declared that "not only is the man racist..." the Tory benches jeered and called for him to "withdraw" as speaker John Bercow was forced to intervene.

Bercow said: "I think it would be much better if for now he would withdraw any allegation of racism against any particular member. I don't think that this is the forum and I don't think it's the right way to behave."

But undeterred he continues, informing the speaker that he had warned the MP and explaining why he believes that the Conservative is a racist.

Blackford said: "The member has called Muslim women 'letterboxes', described African people as having 'watermelon smiles' and another disgusting slur that I would never dignify by repeating. If that's not racist Mr Speaker I don't know what is.

As he turned to Theresa May, he asked: "Does the minister honestly believe that this man is fit for the office of prime minister?"

Theresa May, without a hint of irony, responded that PMQs was about asking the prime minister questions about the actions of the government.

She replied: "I can say to (him) that I believe any Conservative prime minister in the future will be better for Scotland than the SNP."

Later, Indian-born Labour MP Virendra Sharma called on Theresa May to justify her own record on immigration, branding policies she has presided over as home secretary and PM as "racist".

He said: "Over the last nine years, the prime minister has held authority over immigration, first as home secretary, and now as prime minister.

"By her own metric, she has failed to reduce immigration and her unjust, discriminatory, and racist policies have caused thousands of people to be treated inhumanly."

Theresa May replied: "Immigration has been good for this country. But what people want to know is that the government can make decisions about who should come to the country, that there is control on the numbers of people coming to the country, and that the government takes action against those that are here illegally.

"That has been the purpose of the policy that has been pursued since 2010, giving people confidence in our immigration system so that we can ensure that we can continue to welcome immigrants to this country who give such an important contribution to our life."

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