TORIES ON THE RUN! – get them out with a general strike

Protester highlights Tory hypocrisy

THE TORY government yesterday dropped its attempt to defeat a House of Commons probe into whether Boris Johnson misled MPs about lockdown parties.

With the PM skulking in India, MPs were due to vote later on a Labour motion to open an investigation into the prime minister’s previous comments.

The government had put up its own amendment to the original motion, putting off a vote until all official probes are over.

However, the amendment was dropped shortly before the debate began at 11.30am.

The Speaker opened the debate by stating he ‘understands that it is now the intention of the government not to move that amendment.’

The debate therefore was on Labour’s original motion calling for the PM to be investigated by the Commons Privileges Committee on whether he misled the House.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he ‘seeks to defend the simple principle … that telling the truth in politics matters’.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said on the government’s U-turn, it is ‘humiliating’ for Conservative MPs who ‘were being pressured to vote for the government’s cover up amendment’.

She added: ‘Tory MPs should do the right thing, respect the sacrifices that their constituents made during the pandemic, and vote in the national interest.’

The Tory climbdown was absolute.

One Tory MP said: ‘We tabled an amendment last night because we wanted to be explicit about ensuring Sue Gray is able to complete and publish her report without any further delay, as well as allow the Metropolitan Police to conclude their investigations.

‘We now recognise that – in practice – this is almost certainly likely to be the case and therefore we are happy for the Labour motion to go through if that is the will of the House.’

Back in the House of Commons chamber William Wragg, Conservative MP and Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said he cannot hide his views ‘without ever more elaborate disguises’.

He said he decided the prime minister ‘was no longer fit to govern’ when the government’s winter 2021 press conference on Covid restrictions was moved earlier to move the conversation on from the leaked video of Allegra Stratton joking about a party in Downing Street.

He said he knows that Tory MPs are ‘struggling at the moment’ as the party ‘bears the scars of misjudgements of leadership’.

There are few Conservatives who can ‘truly enjoy’ being an MP at the moment, said Wragg adding it is ‘utterly depressing’ to be asked to ‘defend the indefensible’.

Next to speak was the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, who said that on days like this, he thinks of those who made sacrifices over the Covid pandemic.

He added: ‘At the very heart of this scandal there is one thing that needs to be said and heard – the prime minister of the United Kingdom is a liar.’

Blackford said the PM denied parties took place when he spoke to the Commons in December and ‘hid behind his staff’.

‘But we know the truth,’ he adds: ‘The truth contains no ifs, no buts… this House was misled and so was the public.’

Senior Conservative MP and Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley said his preference ‘would be to go with the government amendment’, which has now been withdrawn.

Labour leader Starmer ended his speech by saying MPs ‘have a duty’ to vote for the motion, and if they fail, ‘the public will not forgive or forget’.

He said that not going ahead with an investigation would lead to them being branded as the Parliament that ‘failed to stand up for honesty’ and ‘failed to stand up to a prime minister who used our faith against us’.

Dave Wiltshire of the All Trades Unions Alliance told News Line: ‘The Tories are on the run. Now is the time for the TUC to call a general strike to get them out and put a workers government in to carry out socialist policies.’