Today saw Jo Swinson’s first PMQs as leader against our incompetent and awful Prime Minister. She had intended to ask about a constituent’s mother who was having a hell of a time getting settled status despite living in this country for almost half a century.
Just before the end of PMQs, Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi tackled the Prime Minister about his awful column in which he said horrific things about Muslim women. It’s worth remembering that these comments are not consequence free. Every woman of colour I know, whether she wears a hijab or not, noticed an increase in the racist, islamophobic crap they have to put up with every single day after he wrote that.
Typically, Johnson was incredibly dismissive of the challenge. Then it was Jo’s turn and she absolutely laid into him.
Unfortunately the embedding feature on Parliament TV isn’t working right now. Here’s a small clip:
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD)
The Prime Minister’s response to the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) was appalling. An apology was required, rather than some kind of justification that there is ever any acceptable context for remarks such as the Prime Minister made in that column. He is the Prime Minister of our country. His words carry weight and he has to be more careful with what he says. My constituent Kristin is afraid because her mum, a European citizen, has been struggling to get settled status after 45 years in this country. Our friends, colleagues and neighbours deserve better than his failures and carelessness with language.
The Prime Minister
In the case of his constituent Kristin—
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab)
The Prime Minister
Her constituent Kristin—if she has indeed been here for 45 years, and I am sure she has—should be automatically eligible for settled status. Clearly, it is a difficult case, but the answer is for the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) to bring it to the Home Secretary, and I am sure we can sort it out.
The text alone doesn’t capture how utterly floored Johnson was by Jo’s question. It’s like a surprise to him that he isn’t universally loved.
Later on, during the debate on the Government motion for an election, Jo took apart Johnson’s arguments for an election. A general election, she said, should be held in a responsible manner, after an extension to article 50 had been assured.
She went on to praise the cross party working which had brought about the Bill to block no deal, particularly the Conservatives who had been “treated so shamefully”.
She then made the case for a People’s Vote, saying that no form of Brexit commanded the support of a majority of the British people.
It was the votes of Lib Dems and the SNP which actively prevented the Government prevailing. Labour abstained, but on this occasion that didn’t matter.
And she ignored the misogynist prat who yelled “Sit down, darling” to her.
Two very confident, authentic, genuine, engaging performances. A very good start to her leadership.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings