MPs laugh as Liz Truss says government 'fully respect the rule of law'

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The actual prime minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson being fined for breaching lockdown laws hasn’t exactly done the “party of law and order” any good – yet Tory MPs are still repeating that line in the Commons.

If you somehow missed it last month, Mr Johnson was handed a fixed penalty notice (FPN) from the Metropolitan Police – which he paid - after a birthday party took place in Downing Street in June 2020, when tight coronavirus restrictions were in place.

Last week, the Met said the number of fines has doubled to more than 100. No 10 have said Mr Johnson has not been given any additional FPNs, and the investigation into 12 separate events – known as Operation Hillman – continues.

Yet all of this makes things rather embarrassing when the Conservatives have tried to create a reputation as the “party of law and order”, and as recently as yesterday Mr Johnson told his cabinet “crime, crime, crime is what we want to focus on”.

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Bit awkward.

And the PM isn’t the only one since Partygate to mention his party’s stance on ‘law and order’ and respecting ‘the rule of law’…

James Cleverly on allegations facing the Spanish government

In a topical question raised on 26 April, SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: “The Spanish government stand accused of using Pegasus, the controversial Israeli spyware, to hack into the phone of a Scottish solicitor who was representing Professor Clara Ponsati [a Member of the European Parliament].

“Does the foreign secretary agree that if this occurred, it would constitute a disgraceful breach of solicitor-client privilege and a direct attack on a democratically elected politician, and will she take the matter up with the Spanish ambassador next time she meets him?”

Responding on Liz Truss’ behalf, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly replied: “I can assure the honourable and learned lady and the House that we have a strong international relationship with Spain and we are able to raise all kinds of issues.

“I am not going to speculate or comment on the details that she has raised, as I have no way of corroborating them, but I can assure her that this government will always stand up for the rule of law and our willingness to support it.”

Priti Patel in an email to Conservative supporters

Just weeks after Mr Johnson revealed he had paid a Covid fine, Ms Patel thought it was worth claiming in an email to supporters that the Tories “are the party of law and order”.

“We’ve proven that this week,” she wrote in the message sent on 29 April, “recruiting more police and delivering new powers for officers.”


Priti Patel on “preventing crime and delivering justice”


Opening a Queen’s Speech debate on the UK government’s plans to take down criminals, the home secretary said: “Whenever fear and crime flourish, people cannot, and nor can our economy or our democracy. The Conservative Party is the party of law and order.

She also described the government of which she is part as a “law and order Conservative government”.

Lee Anderson on the Queen’s Speech

The Ashfield MP, who has recently come under fire for comments on food banks, said in the same discussion that “each time we debate the subject” of law and order in the Commons, “the Labour Party seems to side with the criminals”.

He continued: “I am not sure why that is, but it seems to happen every single time.

“The Queen’s Speech serves as a reminder to everyone that the Conservatives are the only party that is serious about law and order in the UK.”

Liz Truss on the Northern Ireland Protocol

More recently, as the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol – an agreement drawn up during Brexit negotiations – continues, the foreign secretary unveiled plans for a bill to override it in the Commons on Tuesday.

Amid concerns that the legislation violates international law, Conservative MP Simon Hoare told Ms Truss: “Respect for the rule of law runs deep in our Tory veins, and I find it extraordinary that a Tory government need to be reminded of that.

“Could my right honourable friend assure me that support for, and honouring of, the rule of law is what she and the government are committed to?”

The foreign secretary replied: “I can assure my honourable friend that we are committed to upholding the rule of law. We are clear that this bill is legal in international law, and we will set out the legal position in due course.”

She issued similar remarks to Ms Cherry and said to her: “We fully respect the rule of law, and we are very clear that this bill is in line with international law.”

Ms Truss’ response to the SNP MP sparked laughter in the Commons.

And it isn’t just ridicule which are likely causing a headache for Tories, as The Sunrevealed in March that internal polling by the party had found Labour were ahead of the Conservative Party on the subject of ‘law and order’.

We wonder why that might be…

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