November 24, 2020

PMQs LIVE: Boris slaps down Starmer in furious devolution row Do you want to destroy UK? – Daily Express

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1361546/pmqs-live-today-boris-Johnson-virtual-video-keir-starmer-House-of-Commons-coronavirus

In a Commons first, the Prime Minister will take part in the session via video link as the Labour leader fires questions over from inside the Chamber. Mr Johnson is currently undergoing a 14 day period of self-isolation in Downing Street after coming into contact with Tory MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for COVID-19. Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsey Hoyle, stressed the need for the Prime Minister to take part in the weekly debate and insisted virtual participation was the next alternative.

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Speaking to Sky News he said: “Of course it’s always second best. I love the eyeball to eyeball.

“I love the excitement of the chamber, I love the power of the chamber.

“The fact is, to miss PMQs would be the deficit I don’t believe we can afford. Of course, it’s not the preference, it’s certainly second best, but it still goes ahead – that’s what matters.”

The Prime Minister is set to face another barrage of questions over his handling of the pandemic after almost 600 further deaths were recorded in the latest 24 hour period.

Boris Johnson Keir Starmer

PMQs live: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer (Image: BBC)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is self-isolating for 14 days (Image: Number10 )

England is now 13 days into a nationwide lockdown and Mr Johnson is likely to face questions over an exit strategy, with Christmas fast approaching, as well as the roll-out of a vaccine.

Mr Johnson is also set to come under increasing scrutiny over the spending of taxpayers’ money during the crisis following a damning report.

The National Audit Office found firms recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority in securing deals for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

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Keir Starmer

PMQs Live: Keir Starmer scrutinises the Government (Image: GETTY)

The investigation added by July 31 more than 8,600 contracts with a value of £18 billion had been awarded to secure supplies and services – including £10.5bn without any competition process.

Speaking earlier this morning, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We had to do an enormous amount of work very fast to secure PPE and that’s what we did, and I’m not going to apologise for the fact that quite rightly we made that effort.”

Follow Express.co.uk for live PMQs updates from 12pm: 

Sir Lindsey Hoyle

Sir Lindsey Hoyle approved the virtual session (Image: PA)

12.38pm update: Scottish whisky could be saved from shackles of US-EU trade deal

The Prime Minister has hinted that the tariffs currently applied on Scottish whisky by the US as part of a trade deal agreed with the EU could disappear under a new agreement.

The US has placed tariffs on EU manufacturers as part of a trade dispute.

With the UK still trading the the US on EU terms, it has severely impacted Scottish whisky manufactures.

However, responding to a question from a Tory MP, the Prime Minister has said Liz Truss is working hard to ensure the tariffs do not remain in a UK-US trade deal outside of the EU. 

12.33pm update: PM hints at cutting 14 day isolation rule

Boris Johnson said the Government is “working very fast” to see if it can replace the current quarantine arrangements for every category of self-isolation, after Conservative chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady highlighted the impact on the aviation industry.

12.30pm update: Disgraced MP Margaret Farrier asks a question

Margaret Farrier, who was booted out of the SNP last month for breaking coronavirus rules when she travelled from Westminster to Scotland, has made a contribution to PMQs.

However, she has not attended in person, instead giving a question via an audio only link.

She has previously already returned to the chamber following the outrage of her breaking isolation rules.

She has refused to resign as an MP – asking a question at PMQs it appears that remains her plan.

12.27pm update: Boris says Britain will bounce back from coronavirus crisis

Labour MP James Murray has demanded an explanation to from the Prime Minister as to why the UK has seen more coronavirus deaths than many other countries and seen the deepest recession of any of member of the G20.

Not entertaining the question, the Prime Minister hits back that the pandemic has hit every country hard but he is confident the UK will bounce back.

Mr Johnson said: “A global pandemic and one in which the UK has, as he rightly says, been badly affected and we mourn every life that has been lost, and of course we are supporting businesses.

“I’ve got absolutely no doubt that we will get through this strongly by next spring as our scientific advisers and the medical officers have said.”

12.24pm update: Speaker Lindsay Hoyle cuts of Boris Johnson

After a number of frosty exchanges between the Speaker of the Commons and the Prime Minister in the House of Commons today, Lindsay Hoyle appears to have lost his patience.

Making use of having Boris Johnson appearing virtually at PMQs, the Speaker has just cut off the Prime Minister half way through his answer to a question from Ian Blackford.

He felt the Prime Minister was taking too long to answer.

12.22pm update: Boris accuses SNP of “surrender” to Brussels

The Prime Minister has said the UK is “bigger, better and more important than what we can do as individual nations and regions”.

The Conservative leader has launched a full throttle rebuttal to Mr Blackford and the SNP’s independence argument.

He adds the SNP want to hand power back to Brussels, something he describes as “surrender”.

12.20pm update: Boris Johnson attacks SNP for policy failures

Ian Blackford has described the Prime Minister and the Westminster Parliament as a “disaster”, listing off his perceived failures of Whitehall while lauding the successes of Holyrood.

However, Mr Johnson has hit back, saying the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK are the real disaster and he should “focus on the real priorities of the people of Scotland on educations, health and tackling crime”.

12.18pm update: PM slams Starmer over financial support – ‘We’ve given £13.5 billion’

The Prime Minister has said the Government has provided more the £13bn to the self-employed as Keir Starmer outlines criticism over financial support to encourage people to self-isolate.

The Labour leader said: “As far as the £500 scheme is concerned, only one in eight workers qualifies for that scheme.

“The PM always does this talking about the number of people he’s helping but ignoring the huge numbers falling through the gap.

“It’s estimated that only about 11% of people self-isolate when they’re asked to do so. 11 percent, that isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because many don’t feel that they can afford to… We need to make easier and affordable for people to do so.”

Mr Johnson said: “We continue to encourage people to do the right thing. It does break the chain of transmission of the disease … We’ve given £13.5 billion so far in support for self-employed people, uplifted Universal Credit.”

12.17pm update: Boris says government moved ‘heaven and Earth’ over PPE

Boris Johnson added the Government moved “heaven and earth” to get PPE into the country amid criticism over the spending of taxpayers money during the crisis.

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer questions Prime Minister over devolution remarks (Image: PA)

12.16pm update: Boris lashes out at Starmer’s ‘hindsight’ criticism

Boris Johnson has erupted in anger at Keir Starmer for attacking him on the Government’s PPE contracts. The labour leader accused the Tories of giving contracts for PPE supply to close friends and associates rather than going through the appropriate channels.

However, the Prime Minister has said he will refuse to apologise for doing what he can do get protecting equipment to the front line as quickly as possible.

12.15pm update: PM lashes out at Tony Blair over independence row

Boris Johnson has pointed the finger towards former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for the rise of the SNP after Keir Starmer branded the Prime Minister a “threat” to the future of the Union.

Keir Starmer said: “The single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is the Prime Minister every time he opens his mouth”.

Mr Johnson replied: “It is Tony Blair himself, the former Labour leader, who has conceded that he did not foresee the rise of a separatist party in Scotland, he did not foresee the collapse of Scottish Labour.”

12.12pm update: PM hits out at Starmer over devolution

Boris Johnson has defended his comments over devolution being a “disaster” and has claimed Labour supports the SNP’s plans for independence.

Keir Starmer asked Mr Johnson why he said Scottish devolution was “a disaster”.

Keir Starmer said: “Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government. Until now, whatever our disagreements, there has been a very broad consensus about devolution.

“So why did the Prime Minister tell his MPs this week that Scottish devolution is, in his words, a disaster?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I think what has unquestionably been a disaster is the way in which the Scottish National Party have taken and used devolution as means not to improve the lives of their constituents, not to address their health concerns, not to improve education in Scotland, but constantly – and I know this is actually a point of view that is shared by [Starmer] – but constantly to campaign for the break-up of our country.

“To turn devolution, otherwise a sound policy for which I myself personally benefited when I was running London – but turn devolution into a mission to break up the UK.

“That, in my view, would be a disaster.”

12.10pm update: Starmer asks the Prime Minister to thank Labour

Keir Starmer has told the Prime minister he should be thanked for helping the Government pass its latest lockdown measures, accusing Tory MPs of rebelling.

He adds that Conservative MPs are plotting behind Boris Johnson’s back to sabotage any future measures.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson appears virtually in the Commons (Image: BBC)

12.05: Boris quizzed on foreign aid budget

Labour’s Anna McMorrin has questioned the Government over its commitment to foreign aid as outlined in the election 2019 Tory manifesto.

The Prime Minister said the UK can be proud of its aid record.

12.02pm update: Boris updates House on coronavirus leak inquiry

In his opening remarks, Mr Johnson addressed the House on the inquiry into the leak of lockdown information. 

He said: “I take this matter extremely seriously and I commit to returning to update the House in due course.”

12.00pm update: PMQs begins in the House of Commons

Boris Johnson has connected to the Commons for the first virtual PMQs.