PM claims he’s a ‘model of restraint’ as he says sorry for ‘misunderstanding’ over Jo Cox comments
PUBLISHED: 10:27 29 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:02 29 September 2019
Boris Johnson has said sorry for any ‘misunderstanding’ surrounding his response to Labour MP Paula Sheriff, but fell short of an apology for the language he used.
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The prime minister defended his use of words such as "surrender" - saying to avoid doing so was "impoverishing the language and diminishing parliamentary debate".
Appearing on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, he admitted that tempers on both sides of the Brexit debate had become "inflamed" - but said it was wrong for parliamentarians to be crowded out from using words like surrender.
But when it was put to him he might have gone too far with his exchanges in the House of Commons, he said: "I certainly think everybody should calm down."
Pressed further on the question he responded: "I think I have been the model of restraint. I think everybody should calm down".
He suggested that his use of the word "humbug" in response to the MP may have been a misunderstanding.
"My use of the word humbug was in the context of people trying to prevent me - us - from using the word 'surrender'," he explained.
Marr said Sheriff - who claimed people quoted the prime minister's words in death threats to MPs - was talking about something "very specific".
Johnson said: "In that case, that was a total misunderstanding and that was wrong."
He added: "I can certainly say sorry for the misunderstanding, but my intention was to refuse to be crowded out from using the word 'surrender' to describe the Surrender Act."
He explained the country wanted to get Brexit done, telling Marr: "I think what most people in this country would agree is that Brexit discussion has been going on for far too long and it is true that tempers on both sides have now become inflamed...
"The best way to end this is to get Brexit done on October 31st and move the country forwards."
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner condemned Boris Johnson's refusal to specifically apologise for the language he used.
To suggest in any way that we are surrendering and not wanting to do the best by our country is really damaging, especially as a direct strategy from No 10. I think he should be utterly ashamed of himself ," she told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
"We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to dial down that language and act responsibly. Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister is using No 10 to inflame and divide our country as a direct strategy. I think that is irresponsible, I think it is wrong."
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