PMQs: Keir Starmer accuses government of 'clean sweep' of ministerial code breaches

Boris Johnson (L) and Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs

Boris Johnson (L) and Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs - Credit: Twitter

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson’s government of a “clean sweep” of ministerial code breaches, as he urged the prime minister to stop “wasting” taxpayers’ cash.

The Labour leader highlighted Johnson’s foreword to the code last year in which he insisted there must be no bullying, no harassment, no leaking, no misuse of taxpayer money and no actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

Sir Keir used Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) to judge Johnson’s record against each point, before claiming there is a case to suggest each one has been breached.

The decision to keep home secretary Priti Patel in her post following a report into her conduct which found she had shouted and sworn at staff, the leaking of Covid-19 restrictions and personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts were among the issues raised by Sir Keir.

But Johnson defended his government’s response to the pandemic and accused the Opposition leader of “concentrating on trivia”, of displaying a “deep underlying Labour hatred of the private sector”, and failing to recognise the efforts made to secure vital equipment in difficult circumstances.

In their final exchanges, Sir Keir said: “I think it’s a clean sweep – bullying, harassment, leaking, wasting public money and obvious conflicts of interest.

“It’s the same old story: one rule for the British public, another for the prime minister and his friends.

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“Just look at the contrast between his attitude to spraying public money on contracts that don’t deliver, and his attitude to pay rises for the key workers who kept the country going during this pandemic.

“If you’ve got a hotline to ministers, you get a blank cheque, but if you’re on the front line tackling Covid, you’re picking up the bill.

“So will the prime minister finally get his priorities right, stop wasting taxpayers’ money and give police officers, firefighters, care workers and other key workers the pay rise they so obviously deserve?”

Johnson replied: “It’s this party and this government that has given key workers, public sector workers, above inflation pay rises this year as he knows – for police, for the Army, for nurses who are now getting 12.6% more than they were three years ago.

“And it’s this government that will continue increasing the living wage.”

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