News, Culture & Society

Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel accuses him of turning the Commons dispatch box in to a ‘bully pulpit’

Rachel Johnson at a fashion party in London on Tuesaday

Boris Johnson was branded ‘reprehensible’ by his own sister today after a tirade against Remainers in the House of Commons in which he accused them of passing a ‘surrender act’.

Broadcaster and politician Rachel Johnson said it was ‘not helpful’ for her sibling to blame Parliament for his Brexit difficulties, and claimed that he used the Commons dispatch box as a ‘bully pulpit’.

It came as furious Labour MPs demanded Boris Johnson apologise after he said the ‘best way to honour the memory’ of Jo Cox is for Parliament to ‘get Brexit done’ as John Bercow condemned the ‘toxic’ House of Commons.

The Prime Minister had also claimed the ‘best way’ for MPs to stay ‘properly safe’ is for them to help him deliver the UK’s departure from the European Union on October 31.

Ms Johnson told Sky News: ‘My brother using words like ”surrender”, ”capitulation” as if the people who are standing in the way of the blessed will of the people as defined by 17.4million votes in 2016 should be hung, drawn, quartered, tarred and feathered and I think that is highly reprehensible language to use.

furious Labour MPs demanded Boris Johnson apologise after he said the 'best way to honour the memory' of Jo Cox is for Parliament to 'get Brexit done'

furious Labour MPs demanded Boris Johnson apologise after he said the ‘best way to honour the memory’ of Jo Cox is for Parliament to ‘get Brexit done’

Johnson said it was 'not helpful' for her sibling to blame Parliament for his Brexit difficulties, and claiming that he used the Commons dispatch box as a 'bully pulpit'

Johnson said it was ‘not helpful’ for her sibling to blame Parliament for his Brexit difficulties, and claiming that he used the Commons dispatch box as a ‘bully pulpit’

‘And I hope there will be some sort of deal on both sides, all sides that this sort of thing is utterly dialled down.’

MPs vote AGAINST giving the Tories time off for Conservative Party conference

MPs have rejected Tory pleas to suspend Parliament for three days at the start of next week to allow the Conservative Party conference to go ahead without disruption. 

Furious opposition MPs took their revenge on Boris Johnson as they voted by 306 to 289, a majority of 17, against a short parliamentary recess. 

The Tories have said the conference event in Manchester will still go ahead but today’s vote raises the prospect of the annual showpiece being majorly disrupted by events back in Westminster. 

The government fears that without the recess and with Parliament still sitting, MPs could try to ambush ministers with emergency debates and questions, forcing them to hurry back to London. 

One annoyed government source told MailOnline: ‘Of course they [opposition MPs] are going to try to cause trouble.’ 

Another government source said blocking recess was a ‘deliberate and cynical act’ and was ‘another example of this Parliament being broken’. 

Meanwhile, MPs’ refusal to give the Tories time off could push Boris Johnson towards trying again to prorogue Parliament. 

The PM has made clear that he wants to end this parliamentary session so that his new government can set out its domestic legislative agenda in a Queen’s Speech. 

Ms Johnson is a former European parliamentary candidate for Remainer party Change UK. 

She is the latest member of the family to turn against the PM after his younger brother Jo revealed he was quitting as a minister and would stand down as the MP for Orpington at the next election. 

He said there had been an ‘unresolvable tension’ between ‘family loyalty and the national interest’. 

The Prime Minister made the comments during a fiery clash in the Commons last night as numerous MPs urged him to tone down his Brexit rhetoric as they suggested it was putting their lives at risk. 

This morning Speaker John Bercow pleaded with MPs on all sides to calm down as he said the atmosphere in the Commons was ‘worse than any I’ve known in my 22 years in the House’. 

Meanwhile, Brendan Cox, Jo’s widower, said he felt ‘a bit sick’ after hearing Mr Johnson’s remarks and today he was asked how he believed his late wife might have responded. 

He said: ‘She would have tried to take a generosity of spirit to it and thought about how in this moment you can step back from this growing inferno of rhetoric.’   

MPs today launched a bid to force the PM to apologise as they demanded – and were granted – an urgent question in the Commons on his remarks.

But Mr Johnson snubbed the request for him to face a grilling as he sent junior Cabinet Office minister Kevin Foster to answer questions on his behalf.

Mr Johnson chose instead to attend a private meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbench MPs in Parliament.  

His sister later today told the BBC the PM’s attack on Parliament was a ‘strongman gambit’ designed to ‘whip up’ support, adding: ‘I love him very much and he is a different person in the Commons.’ 

Labour MP Jess Philips says a man has been arrested after trying to ‘kick the door’ of her constituency office

A Labour MP said a man has been arrested after trying to ‘kick the door’ of her constituency office while reportedly shouting that she was a ‘fascist’.

Jess Phillips, who represents Birmingham Yardley, said her staff had to be locked in the office while the man tried to ‘smash the windows’ and ‘kick the door’.

She told LBC Radio: ‘I’ve only just heard about it myself, but my staff had to be locked into my office while the man tried to smash the windows and kick the door, I believe.

‘I don’t know what I can say because the man has been arrested.

‘But he was shouting that I was a fascist, apparently.’

Ms Phillips was among MPs who told the Prime Minister to apologise for his language in the Commons on Wednesday, saying his choice of words had been designed to ‘inflame hatred and division’.

She also tweeted on Wednesday that she had received an ‘anonymous letter’ to her constituency office which read: ‘It was rather prophetic that Boris Johnson should say: ‘I would rather be found dead in a ditch.’

‘That is what will happen to those who do not deliver Brexit.’

She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: ‘What we saw yesterday and today in the Commons is a very divided country.

‘But to say that Parliament is at fault is not helpful, because Parliament is also divided and it’s reflecting the division in the country.’

She suggested that the tactic was the ‘kind of strongman gambit that has been proved to work’.

‘I think that what we are seeing is an executive that is so keen to deliver Brexit in any shape or form, to get the country out of the EU, to deliver up on that promised land, that they will do anything to justify that end.’

Asked what could be behind the strategy, she said: ‘It could be (senior aide) Dominic Cummings advising the Prime Minister to be extremely aggressive and to face down opposition from all sides of the establishment in order to secure his position as the tribune of the people.

‘It could be coming from my brother himself, he obviously thoroughly enjoys being Prime Minister.

‘It also could be from – who knows – people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit. We don’t know.’

Mr Johnson was this afternoon defended by senior Tory MP Maria Miller, who said language like ‘surrender act’ is part of the ‘cut and thrust’ of politics.

Speaking during a Commons debate on democracy, the chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Committee added: ‘The very idea that calling the Withdrawal No 2 Bill a surrender bill is in some way inflammatory – it is not.

‘It is simply a way of explaining to people who didn’t do as we all did, read it word for word.

‘I could say calling something a ‘bedroom tax’ is inflammatory, but this is part of the cut and thrust of politics.

‘And for honourable members to be intimidating members from being able to use that language I think is wrong and people should examine their motives for doing so.’

The family torn apart by Brexit: How the Johnson clan divides over the Brexit issue  

Brexit has driven a wedge between friends, colleagues and relatives across the UK for three years as people have become polarised between Leave and Remain.

And despite constant declarations of solidarity between them, that division was today proven to be as present as ever between members of the Johnson clan.

The Prime Minister’s brother Jo Johnson dramatically announced he was resigning as an MP this afternoon, as he cannot resolve ‘family loyalty and the national interest’.

In a move that took No10 completely by surprise, universities minister Jo Johnson said he was also standing down from his cabinet role under brother Boris.

Despite constant declarations of solidarity between them, that division was today proven to be as present as ever between members of the Johnson clan. Pictured left to right are father Stanley, Rachel, Boris and Jo

Despite constant declarations of solidarity between them, that division was today proven to be as present as ever between members of the Johnson clan. Pictured left to right are father Stanley, Rachel, Boris and Jo  

His family has been mired in a bitter feud over Brexit ever since Boris became the poster boy of the campaign to remove the UK from the bloc.

The clan – namely his father Stanley, brother Jo and sister Rachel – had put on a very public display of support when Boris was announced as leader of the Tories in July.

However their recent history has been much more volatile, and even stretches back beyond the EU referendum of 2016.

Brother Jo Johnson – Remainer

Boris vacillated for months before finally throwing in his lot with the Brexiteers ahead of the history-making vote.

But his decision to spearhead the successful campaign came in the face of fierce opposition from his nearest and dearest.

Both Jo – who was serving as universities minister in David Cameron’s government at the time – and Rachel were staunch Remainers.

Jo is on the Remainer wing of the Tories, having previously resigned from Theresa May’s government and having called for a second referendum.

Writing at the time, he revealing said: ‘Brexit has divided the country. It has divided political parties. And it has divided families too.’

Jo has been described as ‘quieter and cleverer’ than his older sibling.

While Boris started his education in England, Jo didn’t start school until after the family had moved the Brussels when their father Stanley got a job with the European Commission.

Jo therefore first took classes as European School in Uccle in the south of the Belgian capital.

Both brothers became fluent in French during their childhood years on the continent.

Both he and Boris later went to Eton College and then Balliol College, Oxford, Boris studying classics, Jo studying modern history.

Jo, like Boris, was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club, a drinking society known for its wanton acts of drunken vandalism, and numbering Oxford’s wealthiest undergraduates among its members.

Jo did his postgraduate studies in Europe and has degrees from two further European universities.

Boris went into journalism after graduating, working for the Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Jo, meanwhile, became an investment banker at Deutsche Bank, before also becoming a journalist at the Financial Times, working in Paris and South East Asia before editing the influential finance column, Lex.

Jo married Amelia Gentleman, a reporter for the Left-wing Guardian in 2005 and the couple have two children.

The brothers both went into politics after leaving journalism, Boris being elected as MP for Henley in 2001.

Nine years later in 2010, Jo stood as the Conservative candidate in Orpington, south-west London and won with a 19,000 vote majority.

Boris’s political career has been more high profile than his brother. He became mayor of London in 2008 and won a second term in 2012, before returning to Parliament and becoming Foreign Secretary in 2016, quitting two years later in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

Jo has meanwhile held less well-known cabinet roles, Assistant Government Whip, Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office before becoming Minister of State at the Department for Transport in January.

Sister Rachel Johnson – Remainer

While Jo and Boris found themselves in an uneasy alliance as members of government together once the dust settled, tensions with Rachel lingered.

She is a well-documented Remainer, and has been increasingly outspoken on the subject in her role as a journalist, TV panelist and novelist.

Following the result of the 2016 referendum, she claimed in her Mail on Sunday column that she was so devastated she ‘sat down and wept’.

Before the general election in 2017, she shocked the Tory-aligned family by joining the Lib Dems.

In a highly personal jibe at her brother, she accused Brexiteers of selling ‘faulty goods’ during the referendum.

‘I wanted to stand up and be counted in my continuing opposition to what I’ve always thought is a suicide mission to take us out of Europe and over a cliff,’ she said.

Speaking on her fight for the Remain cause, she added; ‘I couldn’t look back on my fifties and have my grandchildren say to me: ‘Grandma, what did you do when Nigel Farage took over the country?”

In another dig at Boris, she publicly joined the campaign for a People’s Vote, calling for citizens to have a final say on any Brexit deal.

In April, the mother-of-three joined the anti-Brexit party ChangeUK and was the lead candidate on the party list in South West England at the 2019 European elections.

She is the middle child of the three most prominent Johnson children, being younger than Boris and older than Jo.

Her journalism career began at the Financial Times in 1989, before a stint at the BBC and a period as a freelance reporter in Washington.

She currently writes a weekly column for the Mail on Sunday and is a panellist on Sky News’ weekly debate show The Pledge.

Father Stanley Johnson – Brexiteer

The siblings’ father Stanley, who once worked as a diplomat at the EU commission, was a staunch Remainer like Rachel and Jo when the debate first raged.

He enjoyed a political career much like two of his sons, working as a Tory MEP for several years and before life as an environmental campaigner.

But the family’s Brexit balance seemed to be tipped evenly since last year when Mr Johnson senior revealed he had been converted to the Brexit cause.

He said Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the union address, hailing the prospect of Brussels having its own army, had convinced him the bloc was headed ‘in a direction we don’t really want to go’.

His position on the subject has somewhat flip-flopped, however. 

Brother Leo Johnson – Remainer

Arriving among the Johnson clan between Rachel and Jo, Leo has steered clear of politics and instead built a career in the City, becoming a partner at PwC.

He co-host the Radio 4 series Future Proofing, which explores how new technology and the latest ideas could transform the way society functions.

Leo tends to avoid politics but wants a People’s Vote on Brexit.

He frequently retweets pro-Remain accounts, as well as being a supporter of environmental issues.

What will Boris Johnson do next? PM wants to SHUT DOWN Parliament just days after reopening its doors as he ponders attempt to prorogue it AGAIN but MPs vow to block his an attempt to hold an uninterrupted Tory conference next week

MPs voted today to stop the Commons shutting down for three days next week.

After the furious row over Boris Johnson’s overruled attempt to prorogue Parliament, his Government tried to force through a short recess from Monday to Wednesday next week so the Conservative Party Conference can go ahead as planned.

But with a febrile atmosphere in the Commons he was defeated by 289 votes to 306, a majority of 17, with almost a dozen ex-Tories opposing him, including Amber Rudd, the former home secretary.

Mr Johnson is also thought to be plotting a fresh attempt at prorogation that would be legally watertight enough to avoid being overturned in another humiliating court battle.

Why does the Government want a recess? 

After the furious row over Boris Johnson's overruled attempt to prorogue Parliament, his Government will try to force through a short recess from Monday to Wednesday next week

After the furious row over Boris Johnson’s overruled attempt to prorogue Parliament, his Government will try to force through a short recess from Monday to Wednesday next week

In normal times the Commons votes to have a short recess in the autumn to allow the parties’ annual conferences to go ahead unimpeded.

Recesses are essentially fixed-length halts in the parliamentary term and take place after a vote by MPs. 

It means Ministers and shadow ministers do not find themselves having to be in two places and blocks political chicanery from taking place in the absence of one party.

But these are not normal times. Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue Parliament –  call an end to the current session and start another following a Queen’s Speech –  meant the recess vote never took place.

After the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Boris Johnson had acted unlawfully and prorogation was null and void, MPs found themselves back in the Commons with no conference recess agreed.

This was fine for Labour and the Lib Dems, who have had their events already.

But the Conservatives are due to descend on Manchester from Sunday, with Boris Johnson due to address the party faithful on Wednesday. 

Without a recess that speech will clash with his appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions. 

More importantly, ministers fear that opposition parties will use the absence of Tory MPs for political ends – forcing them to come back to London at short notice to answer urgent questions and make statements – or even force votes on Brexit related measures.

The Tories have made clear they will press on with the conference despite the turmoil. The event is a major money-spinner for the party and cancelling would leave a big dent in its finances just months before an expected election.  

But how can Boris Johnson prorogue Parliament AGAIN after his court defeat?

Mr Johnson (pictured last night) has made clear that he wants to deliver a fresh Queen's Speech and had previously set a date of October 14.

Mr Johnson (pictured last night) has made clear that he wants to deliver a fresh Queen’s Speech and had previously set a date of October 14.

Boris Johnson is believed to be planning to suspend Parliament again as he tries to hold a Queen’s Speech so that his government can set out its domestic legislative agenda.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that his five-week suspension of Parliament was unlawful.

But the court did suggest that a shorter prorogation of four or five days would be acceptable.

It said that such a period of time was normal for prorogation purposes.

Downing Street is still examining the court’s judgement but there is growing speculation that Number 10 could move to prorogue Parliament again in the coming days.

Any move to suspend Parliament would be massively controversial given that MPs have only just returned to work.

But the government will be hopeful that a shorter prorogation would not fall foul of the courts.

Mr Johnson has made clear that he wants to deliver a fresh Queen’s Speech and had previously set a date of October 14.

But the timing of when a prorogation order could be made is yet to be set out.

It is thought that the timing could be impacted by the outcome of the recess vote this afternoon.

If MPs reject the Conservatives’ request for the recess it may well act as the trigger for Mr Johnson to try to shut Parliament sooner rather than later.  

How will the Remainers try to thwart Boris’s Brexit plans? 

Rebel MPs are plotting firm action designed to hem in the Prime Minister over Brexit. 

But there is an apparent split between the Lib Dems and ex-Tories over whether they should try to strengthen an anti-No Deal law designed to force Boris Johnson to delay Brexit.  

Under the so-called Benn Act passed at the start of the month Mr Johnson will have to go to Brussels on October 19 and beg for a three-month Article 50 extension if he has not agreed an exit deal with the EU by then.

But with the PM insisting Brexit will still happen on Halloween, with or without a deal, Remainers fear he is preparing to break the law. 

Some are worried that the current legislation to force his hand might may not be strong enough and want to make it ‘bulletproof’.

The Lib Dems are leading the charge and want to bring forward new rebel legislation which would force the PM to ask for a delay long before the middle of October – perhaps as early as next week. 

But the 21 ex-Tory MPs are against tampering with the existing law.  Instead they want to use the time between now and October to hold the Prime Minister’s feet to the fire in different ways.  

Forcing Boris to ask for Brexit delay from EU with a new law blocking No Deal  

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said yesterday that the Benn Act, an emergency law passed weeks ago forcing Boris Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50, needed strengthening.

It is due to take effect from October 19 if there is no deal in place, mandating an application for a three-month Brexit delay. Government sources have suggested Mr Johnson might try to ignore it.  

 In a jibe at the Prime Minister following his Supreme Court defeat yesterday Ms Swinson said: ‘We simply cannot afford to wait until the 19th of October to see whether or not the Prime Minister will refuse to obey the law again.’ 

Using Parliamentary rules to take control of the Commons 

Ideas floating about include using emergency debate powers to seize control of the order paper, or use a ‘humble address’ to force the Government to release more Brexit documents. 

Some MPs are reportedly planning to try to force the government to publish its prorogation legal advice from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in full.

The Remain-backing MPs know they have a majority in the Commons and could also try to reinforce the recently passed anti-No Deal law to make it ‘bullet proof’ amid suggestions the PM could try to ignore it.

Supporters of a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ will be considering whether they could use the shifting balance of power in Westminster to secure their goal.

Labour currently supports a second referendum, but only after an election. 

Find Mr Johnson in contempt of Parliament 

They could also make moves to find Mr Johnson in contempt of Parliament. Without a majority the PM can in effect do very little to stop them. 

Action could be taken against Mr Johnson over his illegal advice to the Queen, with the possibility of contempt proceedings. Theoretically this could include stripping him of his salary – or even imprisoning him at Parliament, although the latter seems very unlikely. 

It has also been suggested that MPs could put Theresa May’s deal back on the table, but try to attach a ‘confirmatory vote’ or second referendum. 

They could also possibly try to dictate the negotiating strategy of the government, by passing laws instructing them to seek certain terms.  

A vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister 

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on stage in Brighton at Labour conference immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, said Mr Johnson must now 'consider his position'

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on stage in Brighton at Labour conference immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, said Mr Johnson must now ‘consider his position’

Such a vote, which could bring down the Government, seems unlikely to be held immediately. 

Mr Johnson laid down the gauntlet to opposition parties last night as he said that if any of them wanted to try to topple him then he would make time tomorrow for a vote of no confidence to take place.

That vote would only require a simple majority to succeed and it would then trigger a 14 day period in which another government could be formed.

If no one was able to command a majority in the Commons at the end of that period it would prompt an election to be held after a 25 day campaign period – likely at the end of November.

The responsibility for seeking a vote of no confidence has so far rested with Mr Corbyn as the leader of the opposition, and he has said it will not happen until after the ‘threat of No Deal is taken off the table’. 

That date that could be as late as October 19, because they want a No Deal Brexit to be ruled out before they push for a vote. A No Confidence vote it could lead to a general election, which sees parliament shut down for five weeks of campaigning, meaning there would be a risk of an accidental hard Brexit if it was triggered too early.

Mr Corbyn said today: ‘Until it is very clear that the application will be made, per the legislation, to the EU to extend our membership to at least January, then we will continue pushing for that (blocking No Deal) and that is our priority.’

He added: ‘When that has been achieved we will then be ready with a motion of no confidence.’

The vote would almost certainly be tight. Mr Johnson would expect to count on the support of the overwhelming majority of Tory MPs although today’s Supreme Court ruling could make some think long and hard about backing the PM. 

Mr Johnson would also likely be supported by a number of Labour Brexit-backing MPs as well as the DUP.  

On the other side, if Mr Corbyn was to launch a push to get rid of Mr Johnson he would likely only do so if he believed all the other opposition parties were on board. 

Lib Dem sources have suggested they could now back a vote of no confidence while the SNP would leap at any opportunity to boot out Mr Johnson. 

The parliamentary arithmetic means that the result could ultimately come down to how a group of 21 Tory rebels who were stripped of the whip by the PM after backing the anti-No Deal law would vote. 

Block a general election before Brexit Day on October 31

The ruling represents a major set back for Mr Johnson, pictured in New York today, who is now facing calls to resign. He said he believes the court made the wrong decision

The ruling represents a major set back for Mr Johnson, pictured in New York today, who is now facing calls to resign. He said he believes the court made the wrong decision

The Prime Minister wants to have an election as soon as possible and has tried to call one twice, using the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA), but was voted down by the opposition.

They know they hold the trump card, just as they do on the No Confidence vote, and will strike when it decides the time is right. 

Despite spending months demanding a general election Mr Corbyn will delay until a No Deal Brexit is ruled out before acquiescing. 

It means the election everyone knows is coming is unlikely to be before November or December, with some in Labour suggesting they could hold off until the spring.

But the 21 Tory rebels DON’T want to play ball. What do they want to do instead? 

Meanwhile, the 21 Tory MPs who were stripped of the whip are believed to be opposed to Ms Swinson’s proposals. 

They reportedly favour leaving the anti-No Deal law as it is and concentrating instead on ramping up the scrutiny of the PM’s Brexit plans. 

It is thought the 21 former Tories want to use parliamentary procedures and arcane devices to force the government to publish more details of its No Deal contingency planning and to keep the pressure on the PM with urgent questions and debates. 

Such methods have proved productive for rebel MPs in the past as they have previously forced the government to hand over Brexit economic impact assessments and No Deal documents.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.