Home › Forums › Discussion Forum › Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019 › Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019
Boris Johnson, unable to enter the Chamber due to self-isolation, was confined to a monitor screen with the Speaker in control of a really handy mute button! This was the first ever Prime Minister’s Questions with the PM on zoom; Lindsey Hoyle had never used that mute button before, but with the PM, it was going to be Oh soo… tempting! Johnson couldn’t grandstand in his usual obnoxious way, but he could still fail to answer the questions, just brag and spew lies. He began, “Mr Speaker I know that you have been updated by my officials on Privy Council terms on the leak investigation that you also referred to in the House on 2 November. As you know, Mr Speaker, I take this matter extremely seriously and I commit to returning to update the House in due course. This morning, I had virtual meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my virtual duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.” If the PM really has been exposed for a second time surly it demonstrates how very poorly he is abiding by the “hand, face, space” rules!
Labour MP Anna McMorrin asked, “This pandemic has shown how interconnected we are and how vulnerable we are to global challenges. When we are still grappling with covid, the climate emergency and growing hunger, why are this Government reported to be breaking their own manifesto commitment and cutting the aid budget, which saves lives and builds resilience? Will the Prime Minister stop this retreat from the global stage and take this opportunity to rule that out, here and now?” Typically evasive the PM said, “I can tell the hon. Lady that everybody in this country can be immensely proud of the massive commitments that this country has made, and will continue to make, to tackling poverty and deprivation around the world. I think they can be even prouder of the commitment that we are now making, leading the world to tackle the threat of climate change. The investment we are making, whether through official development assistance or other means, in tackling that problem is second to none across the world. It is the UK that is leading the world in tackling one of the greatest problems that this planet faces.” So, answer came there none!
Keir Starmer said, “May I start by sending my best wishes to the Prime Minister and all those across the country who are doing the right thing by following the rules and self-isolating? 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’?” The PM replied, “I think what has unquestionably been a disaster is the way in which the Scottish nationalist party has taken and used devolution as a means not to improve the lives of its constituents, not to address their health concerns or to improve education in Scotland, but, I know this point of view is shared by the right hon. and learned Gentleman—constantly to campaign for the break-up of our country and to turn devolution, otherwise a sound policy from which I myself personally benefited when I was running London, into a mission to break up the UK.”
“That, in my view, would be a disaster.” Johnson emphasized before turning the question on Starmer, “If he does not think that would be a disaster, perhaps he could say so now.” The Speaker intervened, and I thought he was going to remind the PM that PMQs was an opportunity for him to answer questions not ask them, which he frequently forgets. Instead he clarified, “Can I just say that it is the Scottish National party, not the nationalist party; otherwise, the phones will be ringing long and hard.” The PM said, “Mr Speaker, I am so sorry. They are national but not nationalist; I see. Right.” Johnson was trying to Take a petty dig at the SNP.
The Speaker replied, “We can play pedantics another time.” Then Starmer really nailed it, “The single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is the Prime Minister, every time he opens his mouth almost. When the Prime Minister said he wanted to take back control, nobody thought he meant from the Scottish people, but his quote is very clear. He said ‘devolution has been a disaster north of the border’. This is not an isolated incident. Whether it is the internal market Bill or the way the Prime Minister has sidelined the devolved Parliaments over the covid response, he is seriously undermining the fabric of the United Kingdom. Instead of talking down devolution does he agree that we need far greater devolution of powers and resources across the United Kingdom?”
Did he have to dredge up Blair, that shameless war criminal? The PM said, “Tony Blair himself, the former Labour leader, has conceded that he did not foresee the rise of a separatist party in Scotland and that he did not foresee the collapse of Scottish Labour. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right: there can be great advantages in devolution, and I was very proud, when I was running a devolved administration in London, to do things in which I passionately believed, such as improving public transport, fighting crime and improving housing for my constituents, and we had a great deal of success. What disappoints me is that the Scottish National party, by your ruling on its correct name, Mr Speaker is not engaging in that basic work. Instead, it is campaigning to break up the Union, an objective that I hope the Leader of the Opposition will repudiate. Will he say so now, that he opposes the break-up of the United Kingdom?” The Speaker intervened to snap back with a correction, “It is not a ruling; it is a matter of fact.”
Again Starmer allowed himself to be put on the spot by answering the PM’s question, “Of course I do not want the break-up of the United Kingdom, but if anything is fuelling that break-up, it is the Prime Minister. Turning now to the Prime Minister’s handling of the pandemic, the Prime Minister is doing the right thing by self-isolating after being notified by track and trace, but does he think he would have been able to do so if, like so many other people across the country, all he had to rely on for the next 14 days was either statutory sick pay, which is £95 a week, that is £13 a day, or a one-off payment of £500, which works out at £35 a day?” The PM would twist this into a pretzel by leaping to the obscure conclusion that Starmer’s criticism of the pittance paid to those expected to self-isolate was instead a glowing compliment regarding the Tories dysfunctional Track and Trace system! It was bizarre.
The PM actually said, “It is good finally to hear something from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in praise of NHS Test and Trace. I think it has secured at least one of his objectives, which is to keep me away from answering his questions in person. I believe that the package that we have in place to protect people and support people throughout this crisis has been outstanding and exceptional. The UK has puts its arms, as I have said many times, around the people of this country, a £200 billion package of support; increasing the living wage by record amounts; uplifting universal credit; many, many loans and grants to businesses of all kinds, and £500 of support for people who are self-isolating in addition to all the other benefits and support that we give. I think it is a reasonable package. I know it is tough for people who have to self-isolate, and I am glad that after a long time in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman simply attacked NHS Test and Trace, he seems now to be coming round and supporting it.” Oh no, the Tory hug of death!
The laughable assumption did not even dignify a response but Starmer snapped, “I am not going to take lectures on support, the lockdown measures were passed the other week with Labour votes. Thirty-two of the Prime Minister’s own MPs broke a three-line Whip, and I hear that about 50 of them have joined a WhatsApp group to work out how they are going to oppose him next time around. He should be thanking us for our support, not criticising.” It was insulting to endure the PMs constant craving for support and compliments; Starmer encourages this with zero opposition and consistent backing of Tory Government policy. As the Prime Minister well knows, so far as the £500 scheme is concerned, only one in eight workers qualify for that scheme. The Prime Minister always does this: he talks about the number of people he is helping but ignores the huge numbers falling through the gap.”
All Starmer was eliciting from the PM was another round of bragging, but he said, “Members here may be able to afford to self-isolate, but that is not the case for many people across the country who send us here. It is estimated that only about 11% of people self-isolate when they are asked to do so, 11%. That is not because they do not want to; it is because many do not feel that they can afford to do so. For example, if someone is a self-employed plumber, a construction worker or a photographer and they do not qualify for social security benefits, or if they run a small business and cannot work from home, they are likely to see a significant cut to their income if they have to self-isolate. This is affecting many families across the country. Does the Prime Minister recognise that if we want to increase the number of people who isolate, we need to make it easier and affordable for people to do so?”
Continuing the con, the PM replied, “Again, I think it is extraordinary that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now coming out in favour of NHS Test and Trace when he has continuously attacked it. In fact, the numbers that he gives for the success rate of the NHS self-isolation programme are, according to my information, way too low. We continue to encourage people to do the right thing, it does break the chain of transmission of the disease. As for the self-employed groups that he mentions, we have given £13.5 billion so far in support for self-employed people and have uplifted universal credit in the way that I described. What we want to do is to get the virus under control, get the R down below 1, which is the purpose of these current measures, encourage people to self-isolate in the way that I am, and thereby stop the disease from spreading so that the firms, professions and businesses that the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about can get back to something as close to normality as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are giving them every possible support.”
Starmer stuck to his guns saying, “The Prime Minister must understand that there is a huge gap in the system, because if someone cannot afford to isolate, there is little point in their being tested or traced. While the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will not pay people enough to isolate properly, we learned this week that they can find £21 million of taxpayers’ money to pay a go-between to deliver lucrative contracts with the Department of Health and Social Care, £21 million. I remind the Prime Minister that a few weeks ago he could not find that amount of money for free school meals for kids over half-term. Does the Prime Minister think that £21 million to a middleman was an acceptable use of taxpayers’ money?” This was a serious scandal so great that Starmer managed to raise it.
Ignoring the fact his Tory Government was chronically unprepared and late to take action the PM excused the profiteering saying, “When this crisis began, we were urged by the right hon. and learned Gentleman to remove the blockages in our procurement process to get personal protective equipment. As he will remember, we faced a very difficult situation where around the world there were not adequate supplies of PPE. Nobody had enough PPE. We shifted heaven and earth to get 32 billion items of PPE into this country. I am very proud of what has been achieved: 70% of PPE is now made, or capable of being made, in this country, when it was only 1% at the beginning of the pandemic. It is entirely typical of Captain Hindsight that he now attacks our efforts to procure PPE. He said then that we were not going fast enough but now says we went too fast. He should make his mind up.”
Starmer replied, “The Prime Minister talks about hindsight; I say catch up. I called for a circuit breaker; the Prime Minister stood there at the Dispatch Box and said it would be a disaster and he was not going to do it. Then he caught up and did exactly that just a few weeks later. We now have a longer, harder lockdown as a result of his delay, so I will not take that from him. Last week, the Prime Minister could not explain how his Government ended up paying £150 million on contracts that did not deliver a single piece of usable PPE; this week, he is effectively defending the paying of £21 million on a contract with no oversight. This morning, the independent National Audit Office concluded that the Government’s approach was, in its words, ‘diminished public transparency’. It reported that more than half of all contracts relating to the pandemic, which, Mr Speaker, totalled £10.5 billion, were handed out without competitive tender and that suppliers with political connections were 10 times more likely to be awarded contracts.”
This was a hard bullet to dodge and Starmer knew he was on to a really serious flaw that reeked of corruption. He continued, “We are eight months into this crisis and the Government are still making the same mistakes. Can the Prime Minister give a cast-iron assurance that from now on all Government contracts will be subject to proper process with full transparency and accountability?” The PM knew this wouldn’t play well in the Media as he replied, “All Government contracts are of course going to be published in the due way and they are already being published. Again, I must say that it is extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman now attacks the Government for securing personal protective equipment in huge quantities. I want to thank again all the people who were involved in that effort: Lord Deighton and literally thousands of others who built up a mountain of PPE against any further crisis.” Johnson tried to confuse the issue with his familiar ‘now he supports me, now he doesn’t’ ploy.
The PM continued, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about transparency and moving too fast to secure contracts. He should know that the shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), wrote to the Government, attacking us for failing to approach various companies, including a football agent who was apparently offering to supply ventilators and a historical clothing manufacturing company that offered to make 175 gowns per week and whose current range includes 16th century silk bodices. Again, at the time, he bashed the Government for not moving fast enough. It is absolutely absurd that Captain Hindsight is now once again trying to score political points by attacking us for moving too fast. I am proud of what we did to secure huge quantities of PPE during a pandemic. Any Government would do the same.”
The PM sounded pathetic and must have been relieved to move on to familiar Tory ‘stroking when Karl MᶜCartney said, “I feel like a positive rose between two negative thorns today…” as he started into the vital issue of support for football clubs. The PM agreed. The SNP Ian Blackford would not be so tame, “May I wish the Prime Minister and all those who are self-isolating well? Over the past 20 years, Westminster has imposed an extreme Brexit, an illegal war in Iraq, £9,000 tuition fees, the Windrush scandal, the rape clause and the bedroom tax, and a decade of Tory austerity cuts which have pushed millions into poverty. At the same time, the Scottish Parliament has delivered free prescriptions, free tuition fees, free personal care, free bus travel, the baby box, the Scottish child payment, and world-leading climate action, all of which make Scotland a fairer and more equal place in which to live. Does the Prime Minister understand why the people in Scotland think it is he and his Parliament that are the real disaster?”
The PM hated such disgraceful comparisons and defensively replied, “I respectfully refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the Leader of the Opposition. I do think that his policies of wanting to break up the Union are a disaster and I wish that he and his party would focus on the real priorities of the people of Scotland, on education, on health, on tackling crime, on housing, and on the issues that matter to all our people. That is what a devolved Government should do. I was very proud to run a devolved administration and that is what we focused on. We did not endlessly go on about constitutional change and the break-up of the UK.” Blackford was aghast saying, “My goodness, I am not sure if the Prime Minister was listening, because I just charted some of the achievements of the Scottish Government delivering on behalf of the people of Scotland. We have seen no apology and no regrets from this Prime Minister. His attack on devolution was not just a slip of the tongue; it was a slip of the Tory mask.”
Blackford continued to blast the PM, “The chasm between Westminster and the Scottish people has never been bigger. We know that these were not just flippant remarks, when Scotland faces the biggest threat to devolution with the Tory power grab Bill. The fact is that Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster. We now face an extreme Brexit, a power grab and another round of Tory cuts, all being imposed against our will by a Tory Government that we did not vote for. Is it not the case that the real disaster facing the people of Scotland is another 20 years of Westminster Government? Is it not clearer than ever that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests, our Parliament and our place in Europe is for Scotland to become an independent country?”
The PM objected, “I could not disagree more with the right hon. Gentleman; he is totally wrong. What the UK does as a whole is far bigger, better and more important than what we can do as individual nations and regions. Let us look at the way in which the UK has pulled together during the pandemic: the way in which the armed services have worked to get testing throughout the whole UK; the way in which the furlough scheme has been deployed across the UK; and the billions and billions of pounds that have been found to help people across the whole UK, and businesses in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. The UK has shown its value and will continue to show its value. The right hon. Gentleman talks about wanting to take Scotland back into the European Union. That seemed to be what he was saying just now.” An independent Scotland thriving within the EU while the rest of the UK rapidly declines into poverty stricken irrelevance would make a disastrous example of the catastrophic crash-out Brexit decision!
Johnson tried to press his futile risible argument saying, “What he and the people of Scotland should understand is that that is a massive surrender of power by the people of Scotland straight back to Brussels, just as this country and the people of Scotland have taken it back again. That is power not just over many aspects of their lives and regulations, but, of course, to control Scottish fisheries as well. All that would be lost under his programme, and I do not believe that it will commend itself to the Scottish people. That programme was decisively rejected in 2014. I believe that it is something that they would almost certainly reject again, but, as he said before…” Johnson was gearing up to seriously run off at the mouth, delivering his crashingly boring and monotonous weekly Tory Party Political broadcast, but he was on Zoom and finally the Speaker could no longer resist the temptation… he hit the mute mutton! Not so discreetly cutting off the PM to drown out his drivel with the decisive words, “I call Sir Graham Brady.”
There was the usual batch of ‘stroking’ non-questions from Tory MPs often including a pitch for funds “In order to truly level up constituencies like mine…” Tory Gareth Bacon brought up the issue of dangerous cladding on buildings, focused of course on owners unable to sell their leasehold flats. Then Labour Kate Osborne attacked “Government plans to scrap the union learning fund,” I featured in an earlier post. She said, “thousands of workers, about 200,000 a year, many of them low-paid, will miss out on training opportunities.” The PM excitedly told her how he had reinvented it as his “lifetime skills guarantee,” after removing trusted Union involvement.
Labour’s Chi Onwurah said, “Child poverty is evil, I know; I grew up with it.” Speaking on behalf of her constituents, with half of the children growing up poor, “and that was before covid,” she begged for Universal Credit not to be cut by £1,000 a year in April. Labour’s Ian Byrne quoted. “Professor Ian Sinha from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, West Derby, recently stated that the environment a child develops in, even before being born, can affect its DNA detrimentally by 10%.” In reply to such points the PM lied about child poverty under the Tories. Labour’s Mohammad Yasin said, “Six out of 10 people who have died from covid-19 are disabled.” Yet, during the pandemic, their care had been cut back, they weren’t getting support and there was no uprate of legacy benefits. Labour’s Bambos Charalambous quoted, “The Lancet shows that black, Asian and minority ethnic people are twice as likely as white people to catch coronavirus and more likely to go into intensive care…” would they be prioritized for vaccination?
Why is ‘forensic’ Keir Starmer relying in his backbench MPs to ask all the tough questions? His limp ‘opposition’ is pathetic and he really needs to go as does the shambolic Tory Cabal who seized power in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. A full Investigation to expose the truth could return Jeremy Corbyn to power to become PM. Labour/Co-op James Murray had slammed the PM, saying, “In March, the Government’s chief scientific officer said that keeping covid deaths below 20,000 would be a good outcome but still an enormous number of deaths. We have now passed 50,000 deaths and suffered the deepest recession of any G7 country, with GDP dropping by 10% in the past year. Why does the Prime Minister think the UK has had the deepest recession in the G7 and the highest number of covid deaths in Europe?” The PMs lame response was, “This is a global pandemic….” The Speaker thanked the broadcasting team “for making today happen.” “Hear, hear,” said the PM; he would have to sort-out that damn mute button! DO NOT MOVE ON!