If anybody was expecting Boris Johnson to show remorse as he faced MPs’ calls for him to resign over unlawfully misleading the Queen to suspend Parliament they were sorely mistaken.
The Prime Minister took a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book to swerve awkward questions about his court defeat, misleading the public over the government’s assessments of the disastrous impact of a no-deal Brexit, the Jennifer Arcuri scandal, his lack of a majority or a viable Brexit strategy by causing outrage – something he has always excelled at.
Dead cat strategy
Or as Boris Johnson’s second most sinister strategist (after Dominic Cummings of course) Lynton Crosby used to call it: “throwing a dead cat on the dining room table” to distract everyone.
There was uproar in the Commons last night as the Prime Minister repeatedly berated MPs, rejected calls to temper his language and said the best way to honour murdered Labour MP Cox – a campaigner for remaining in the EU – was to “get Brexit done”.
Johnson scoffed at Labour MP Paula Sherriff’s claim in the Commons that like her friend Jo Cox – brutally killed by a man with far-right sympathies just days before the 2016 referendum – many MPs faced death threats from people using the same sort of language as the Prime Minister.
He dismissed her concerns as “humbug” and told MPs if they wanted to guarantee they were “properly safe” they should back his Brexit plans.
“Inciting hatred towards MPs”
Today Paula Sherriff hit back on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, accusing the PM of “inciting hatred against MPs.”
The Labour MP said that after Johnson’s divisive performance last night, one MP had contacted her to say that such rhetoric meant she would not be standing at the next election.
But Sherriff vowed to fight the next election, saying: “I will not let these bullies win and I include the prime minister in that.”
But she added that MPs feared that another politician could be killed and explained she was “not scaremongering”.
She told the show: “We talk about it in the tearooms. People are really frightened and for him to treat it almost like a joke, was absolutely horrific and demeans the office of prime minister.”
“I believe the prime minister is inciting hatred towards MPs. I understand the importance of saying that, but I know that feeling is shared by many of us.”
Is Johnson trying to make a Brexit deal impossible?
Another motivation for Boris Johnson’s dangerous and divisive strategy is perhaps to destroy any chances of cross party support for a Brexit deal should he miraculously negotiate one with the EU between now and the deadline set by Hillary Benn’s legislation of October 14.
If he was counting on opposition votes to help him pass such a deal through Parliament now he has lost the slim majority the Tories and DUP coalition held, he is unlikely to have much support now.
Which should make people question how serious Johnson is about actually achieving the Brexit deal he claims he will negotiate by October 31.
Lisa Nandy, one of the Labour MPs who has always championed cross party consensus for a Brexit deal negotiated by the Government with the EU called Johnson’s performance last night “horrendous, divisive.”
“For those of us who do want to work cross-party to achieve a deal, this is making it much, much more difficult,” she confirmed.
Labour MP Rupa Huq called the Tory performance last night an “all time low” and added: “we all have a responsibility to weigh our words but only one side talked of “surrender” and “capitulation” last night egged on by Tory press who call judges and remainers mutineers and saboteurs.”
Ed Miliband expressed his shock too, taking to Twitter to say: “In my 4+ years opposing David Cameron I never saw a parliamentary performance like tonight’s from Boris Johnson: deeply irresponsible, stoking division, using dangerous, inflammatory language, fanning the flames of hatred. This is not about right and left but right and wrong.”