Boris Johnson refers to Ian Blackford as 'Mystic Meg' during PMQs
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Things can get intense in the House of Commons, especially after recent events with a lawbreaking Prime Minister and the cost of living crisis.

In an attempt to try and keep things somewhat civil, MPs have to follow a string of rules when speaking. Unparliamentary language is forbidden, as it "breaks the rules of politeness in the House of Commons Chamber."

If a member uses such language, the Speaker will direct them to withdraw it. If an MP refuses to take back the remark, they could face disciplinary action such as being "named" by the Speaker. This means they can be temporarily suspended from the Chamber.

The Parliament website states: "There is no hard and fast list of unparliamentary words. Whether something said is a breach of order depends on the context.

"The Speaker deprecates personal remarks about other Members. Any abusive or insulting language used in debate will be required to be withdrawn immediately.

"Accusations of deliberate falsehood, if seriously alleged, would be a matter of privilege and could be made only on a substantive motion secured by writing privately to the Speaker to obtain permission to raise a matter of privilege.

"Any such accusation made in the course of other proceedings would be disorderly and must be withdrawn."

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On Tuesday (April 19), Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, addressed Ministers about tax loopholes.

She said: "They’re laughing in our faces while robbing the public purse.

"So I asked the Prime Minister, how many more children need to go hungry at night, before he stops putting the greed of his super-rich mates, before the needs of ordinary people?"

She later tweeted: "Apparently saying tax dodgers 'rob the public purse' is unparliamentary language, so Boris Johnson got away without answering this question."

Here are further examples of phrases that the Speaker has condemned:

  • Blackguard
  • Coward
  • Git
  • Guttersnipe
  • Hooligan
  • Rat
  • Sod
  • Swine
  • Ignoramus
  • Stoolpigeon
  • Traitor
  • Miserable pipsqueak
  • Liar
  • Stupid cow
  • Wart
  • Hypocrite
  • Idiot
  • Tart


Prime Minister’s Questions take place on Wednesdays at 12pm.

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