PMQs: Boris Johnson told he’s incapable of ‘doing the decent thing’ after IRA remarks

PUBLISHED: 12:35 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 02 September 2020

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: House of Commons.

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: House of Commons.

PA Wire/PA Images

The Labour leader has demanded that Boris Johnson withdraws remarks made at PMQs suggesting the opposition leader condoned an IRA supporter in the form of Jeremy Corbyn.

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In turning attention away from Starmer’s remarks about the prime minister’s incompetence, Johnson told MPs: “This is a leader of the opposition who backed remaining in the EU and now is totally silent on the subject, now has performed a U-turn.

“He backed – in fact he still does Mr Speaker – this is a leader of the opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician who wanted to get out of Nato and now says absolutely nothing. This is a leader of the opposition who sat on the front bench whilst there was anti-Semitism…”

But Starmer was quick to demand Johnson retract the remarks to the cries of “withdraw” from Labour MPs.

The Labour leader told the chamber: “I wanted to take him back... I worked in Northern Ireland for five years bringing peace, I prosecuted as the director of public prosecutions serious terrorists for five years, working with intelligence and security forces and working with the police in Northern Ireland.


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“I ask the prime minister to withdraw that comment”.

As Johnson rose to his feet he ignored the request, prompting the speaker to quickly cut off his comments, asking if he wanted to withdraw the allegation.

Johnson stuttered: “I am very happy to say that I think… I listened to the protestations of the right honourable gentleman and think they have would have been more in order throughout the long years in which he supported a leader of the Labour Party (Jeremey Corbyn)…”

As Johnson failed to apologise or withdraw he was made to sit down again, Starmer continued: “When the prime minister has worked with security and intelligence forces prosecuting criminals and terrorists he can lecture me.”

To cheers from his own backbenches, he said: “I asked him to do the decent thing, but doing the decent thing with this prime minister don’t go together”.

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