Boris ‘unfit for office’ Johnson avoids answering questions about his ‘broken promises’

Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson defended his record in office as he faced questions about his leadership and political future. The Labour Party and others are accusing the prime minister of breaking several promises that he made in his 2019 manifesto. The SNP has described him as “simply unfit for office”.

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“Is everything OK, Prime Minister?”

In a rowdy session of Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson was cheered by Tory MPs as he rejected claims he was not fit for office. It comes in a week when Tory MPs have allegedly been saying that Johnson is no longer fit for his position.

The PM’s appearance in the Chamber also followed criticism from within his party in a series of hostile briefings since a chaotic speech at the Confederation of British Industry on 22 November. Labour leader Keir Starmer highlighted Tory divisions over Johnson’s style and rumours of a rift with chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The chancellor sat next to Johnson in the Chamber as Starmer said:

The Prime Minister’s routine is falling flat. His Chancellor is worried that people are getting wise, his backbenchers say it’s embarrassing… and senior people in Downing Street tell the BBC ‘it’s just not working’.

Echoing the question asked by a journalist on 22 November, Starmer said:

Is everything OK, Prime Minister?

Johnson responded:

I’ll tell you what’s not working, it’s that line of attack.

The Labour leader accused Johnson of breaking a promise that no one would have to sell their home to pay for social care under his reforms for England, on top of a pledge he had already abandoned on not raising taxes. Starmer said:

Who knows if he will make it to the next election. But if he does, how does he expect anyone to take him and his promises seriously?

The Labour leader branded the social care cap a “working class dementia tax” because poorer families face losing proportionally more of their assets than wealthier ones. Johnson defended his record and attacked Labour, saying his social care plan “does more for working people up and down the country than Labour ever did”. He also claimed:

There are now more people in work than there were before the pandemic began, that’s because of the policies this Government has pursued.

There was more support for Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions than there had been last week, although some gaps were still visible on the Tory benches. At one point, as Conservatives barracked Starmer, the Labour leader said:

I see they have turned up this week, prime minister.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)

‘Incoherent’

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the prime minister “can’t even give a coherent speech to business” adding:

Officials have lost confidence in him, Tory MPs have lost confidence in him – the letters are going in – and the public have lost confidence in him. Why is he clinging on when quite simply he isn’t up to the job?

The PM avoided answering the question and instead asked Blackford “what on earth he is doing talking about party political issues” when the people of Scotland wanted to know about the “manifold failures” of the SNP government in Edinburgh.

‘Great form’ for Johnson

The Commons exchanges came after Cabinet minister Dominic Raab insisted the prime minister “is on great form” and dismissed “Westminster tittle tattle” about his position. Downing Street was forced to insist that the prime minister was physically “well” and “focused on delivering for the public” following questions about the CBI speech on 22 November which saw him lose his place in his notes, impersonate a car, and talk about a visit to Peppa Pig World.

Rumours have swirled about strained relations between Johnson’s No 10 and Sunak’s No 11 since a “senior Downing Street source” told the BBC “there is a lot of concern inside the building about the PM” and “it’s just not working”. Allies of Sunak denied the Treasury was involved in the briefing.

The anonymous source of the incendiary briefing to the BBC has been dubbed the “Chatty Pig” in Westminster, as the comments emerged following the prime minister’s CBI speech.

Justice secretary Raab told BBC Breakfast:

It’s the job of Westminster commentators to pick up on one anonymous source from wherever they found it to criticise the Government of the day, that’s fine.

He said Johnson was “focused on the job at hand”, adding:

The Prime Minister is an ebullient, bouncy, optimistic, Tiggerish character and he livens up his speeches in a way that few politicians past and present have done, but actually there is a steeliness to him as a Prime Minister and indeed his team, and we work as a team.

“Angst”

One Tory MP told the PA news agency that Johnson was “losing the confidence” of his backbenchers and should quit in the new year. The MP would not say whether they had submitted a letter to the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers calling for Johnson to quit. Meanwhile, the Telegraph quoted a Tory whip as saying it was an “assumption” that some MPs had sent no-confidence letters to the 1922 Committee.

If 15% of sitting Conservatives submit letters then there would be a vote on his leadership, although the whip said “it will not get anywhere near the 50 letters you would need, but it does cause angst”. Asked about the suggestion that letters had been sent to the 1922 Committee, Raab told LBC:

There is the usual Westminster tittle tattle and I’m not aware of that.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Tubs, the co-proprietor of the Local Shop for Local People (League of Gentlemen) when visited by a policeman seeking a colleage, explosively exclaimed “We didn’t burn him”. Cut to smouldering policeman’s boot in embers of a bonfire on the moors. Notice the similarity with the Deputy PM’s defence of the indefensible?

    2. “Starmer said:

      Who knows if he will make it to the next election. But if he does, how does he expect anyone to take him and his promises seriously?”

      Ohhhh, the ironies of the “‘Party-Unifier”!!

      If Sunak takes over – God forbid! – then it will be delicious seeing all the racist Tories attempting to call anyone who criticises him “racist”.

      TBH, there’s no decent Tory MPs left. At least on the ‘frontbenches’.

      There will be a corporate media storm to undermine 3rd party voting next election. And, unlike the ‘brexshit party’, any new lefty parties can expect total mention censorship.

      Resist Party Williamson will be twiddling his thumbs for a long time before he gets the coverage of F’Rage, let alone invited onto QT.

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