Sir Keir Starmer called Boris Johnson a coward

After whipping its MPs vote to alter the system for monitoring MPs’ behaviour, Keir Starmer has accused the Conservative Party of “corruption.” After the independent standards committee judged him to have infringed lobbying regulations, this allowed a former cabinet minister and Carrie Johnson’s former employer, Owen Paterson, off the hook, at least for the time being.

The Conservatives have been accused of “corruption” by Keir Starmer. Will it make a difference?

According to The New Statesman: Following uproar and dissatisfaction among Conservative MPs on 4 November, the immediate measures to alter the system were shelved. “We’ve lit a fire, and we have no clue how to put it out or which way it’ll burn,” Nigel Mills, a Conservative MP who voted against the proposal, told Tim before the U-turn was made. Despite voting against government directions, he had already seen his constituents’ inboxes fill up with complaints. “You’re a horrible bunch of morally bankrupt lowlifes,” says the narrator. “What a disgusting bunch of immoral low lives you are,” read one message Mills received on Wednesday, 3 November.

The focus has shifted to the damage that this row – and the subsequent U-turn – will do to the Conservative Party in the upcoming election, as well as the broader damage to the political class’s reputation. “The constituency of voters who you might describe as the ‘anti-corrupt’ (that is, people who care so much about corruption that they will vote to punish it even if they are aligned with the government of the day on taxation, education, health, crime, climate change, and the other big vote-moving issues) is so small that it is deplorable,” Stephen argues. Even if this topic has a lot of “cut through” with the public right now, it’s unlikely to turn the dial on its own in the next election.

But, whether it is international treaties, human rights legislation, parliament, or the standards committee, Boris Johnson’s government has a history of sweeping away checks and balances on his government. Whether it comes at an electoral cost or not, it matters.

According to the BBC: During a tense debate in the House of Commons, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of being a “coward” in handling the issue over MPs’ second employment.

Boris Johnson’s Unjustifiable Mistakes

Sir Keir was accused of delivering “lawyerly” responses rather than discussing the facts of his own extra paid work by the prime minister in retaliation.

Sir Keir later retracted his comments but stated that the prime minister was “no leader.” Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, made many requests for improved behaviour. “Ill-tempered” was his description of the mood at Prime Ministers Questions.

Mr Johnson’s spat with Sir Keir erupted following a series of confrontations over the subject of MPs’ second jobs, which has haunted Westminster for weeks. Following Tory MP Owen Paterson’s violation of the rules on paid lobbying on behalf of two firms, both Labour and the Conservatives announced their own set of recommended improvements on Tuesday.

Sir Keir, whose party wants practically all second jobs outlawed, said: “When someone in my group misbehaves, I expel them. When a member of his group misbehaves, he attempts to excuse them. I’m in charge, and he’s hiding.”

Suspicion Between Johnson-Keir Starmer

Sir Keir slammed the government’s handling of the Paterson affair, particularly its decision to support a rule change that postponed the MP’s suspension from the Commons – which was then reversed, and Mr Paterson resigned. “Everybody else has apologised for him, but he won’t apologise for himself,” Sir Keir said. “A coward, not a leader. Weeks are defending corruption.”

But the prime minister responded that Sir Keir needed to give more details of his work as a barrister, saying that in a “lawyerly way” he was “trying to preach to others for exactly the sorts of actions that he took himself”.

“It’s plain from listening (to Sir Keir) that he seeks to criticise this government while refusing to explain his position … but his misconduct is clear to everybody,” Mr Johnson said.

“Meanwhile, we will get on on a cross-party basis with taking forward the business I have outlined, and we will get on with the business of this government.”

Boris Johnson says conflating the Owen Paterson case and MPs’ disciplinary process “certainly was a mistake”.

Sir Lindsay urged Mr Johnson not to ask questions of the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions, despite boisterous circumstances in the chamber. At one point, he issued the following command: “Please take a seat, Prime Minister. I’m not going to be tested in any way. Although you are the Prime Minister of this country, I am the leader of this House.”

Later, Sir Lindsay stated: “This hasn’t helped this House today, in my opinion. I believe that was a tense situation.”

Ian Blackford, the leader of the Scottish National Party, joked about the empty seats on the benches behind the prime minister. He said: “It used always to be said that the Tory MPs were behind the prime minister but, my goodness, look at the gaps. The rebellion has started.”

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant raised a point of order after Prime Minister’s Questions, claiming that Sir Keir’s use of “coward” was unparliamentary.

The Labour leader responded: “I withdraw the remark, but he [the prime minister] is no leader.”

During the round of PMQs, some of the anxiety around Westminster over claims of sleaze and conflicts of interest erupted. The Speaker’s irritation was palpable as he frequently interjected, stopping the prime minister from answering Keir Starmer‘s questions with questions of his own.

There was an overall feel of Labour’s strategy: accusing the prime minister of failing to lead on this issue and even using the typically forbidden term “coward.” Then there was a feel of Boris Johnson’s strategy: conceding that there was a blunder in the handling of Owen Paterson, but attempting to pin part of the blame on Labour Leader Ed Miliband.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the Conservative side was not as crowded or boisterous as usual. This reflects some of the Conservative Party’s discomfort with the government’s handling of the previous fortnight, as well as some trepidation about what a crackdown on second employment may entail.

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