Dawn Butler was asked to leave the House of Commons yesterday after she accused Boris Johnson of “lying” to the public.

The Labour MP was asked to leave by temporary deputy speaker Judith Cummins for the remainder of the day after she made a number of comments about the Prime Minister’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is considered not within the boundaries of parliamentary etiquette to call another member a liar.

Butler said: “Poor people in our country have paid with their lives because the Prime Minister has spent the last 18 months misleading this House and the country over and over again.”

She highlighted disputed claims made by the Prime Minister including figures about the economy and the government’s record on coronavirus adding: “It’s dangerous to lie in a pandemic.

“I am disappointed the Prime Minister has not come to the House to correct the record and correct the fact that he has lied to this House and the country over and over again,” she said.

Cummins replied: “I’m sure that the member will reflect on her words she’s saying and perhaps correct the record.”

Butler replied: “What would you rather – a weakened leg or a severed leg?

“At the end of the day the Prime Minister has lied to this House time and time again.

“It’s funny that we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie rather than the person lying.”

Cummins intervened again and urged Ms Butler to “reflect” on her words and withdraw them.

Butler replied: “I’ve reflected on my words and somebody needs to tell the truth in this House that the Prime Minister has lied.”

Cummins then read out a statement in which she ordered Butler to “withdraw immediately from the House for the remainder of the day’s sitting”, which she duly did.

Reacting to the tense exchange, people came out in support for the MP.

The phrases #BorisJohnsonIsAliar and #DawnButlerSpeaksForMe were also trending as people backed the MP.

And people compared the incident to the time Labour MP Dennis Skinner was kicked out of the Commons in 2016 for calling the then Prime Minister “dodgy Dave”.

But not everyone was in support:

Right-wing blog Guido Fawkes called it an “attention seeking stunt”.

The Government’s deputy chief whip Stuart Andrew also took exception to Butler’s speech.

He said: “It was disappointing to hear the constant accusation of cronyism and corruption. I took particular offence to being described as a member of a racist-enabling Government, as someone who has faced prejudice in my life.

“As someone who actually ended up hospital – and so did my father – because of my own sexuality, and also to be told that I don’t believe in the NHS when I spent most of my working life working for the hospice movement, and when we are told that we don’t care about poorer families when my dad spent a lot of time under unemployment and I had to have free school meals – I really do take exception to those sort of accusations.

“I will stand up to anyone who discriminates against any single person for who or what they are or who they love. I will defend the NHS for as long as I am alive.

“And I believe that the best way to help our poorest families is to give them the opportunity to have a job that pays well, because when they are able to defend and support themselves it is the best opportunity that they have for a better life.”

Butler herself later posted on Twitter, restating that she thought Johnson had “lied”.

In an interview with Byline TV, she added:

“Time and time again we’ve got Government ministers that have been literally caught with their pants down and nothing has been done with it.

“So if as a backbencher if I can’t call it out and say it how it is, who is going to do it?

“I think in ordinary times you have governments that are in the main honest and they are principled.

“What we’ve seen over the last 18 months is a government that’s truly corrupt to the core they will do whatever they want and whatever they like in order to get their hands on public money and to give that public money to their mates.

“We’ve seen an erosion of parliamentary democracy.”

Parliament is in recess now until September. Safe to say, it’s gone out with a bang.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)