Boris Johnson is criticised for ‘nervous, calamitous’ first PMQs

Boris Johnson is roundly criticised after his ‘nervous and flustered’ appearance at ‘calamitous’ first PMQs

  • Boris Johnson’s first Prime Minister’s Questions was a bad-tempered affair
  • Hetraded insults with Jeremy Corbyn before being attacked by opponents 
  • Seasoned Westminster watchers were unimpressed by ‘nervous’ performance

By Richard Spillett for MailOnline

Published: 16:06 BST, 4 September 2019 | Updated: 19:25 BST, 4 September 2019

Boris Johnson was left looking shell-shocked after a bruising first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Political commentators said the new PM looked ‘flustered’, ‘unsettled’ and ‘lacking composure’ as he came under furious attack from the opposition benches – and his own.

Meanwhile, members of the public watching at home commented that the new Prime Minister attempted to glaze over a lack of detail with jokes and bravado. 

With his party rocked by a series of sackings overnight, Mr Johnson was chided over his no-Brexit planning by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and even came under attack from his own side over his controversial adviser Dominic Cummings.

Boris Johnson suffered a bruising first appearance in Prime Minister Questions today

Mr Johnson hit back by calling Jeremy Corbyn a ‘chlorinated chicken’ and was muttered saying the Labour leader is a ‘big girl’s blouse’ for not potentially not agreeing to an election.

Mr Johnson said Labour’s spending policies were a ‘s**t-or-bust strategy’, adding: ‘I say it’s both, Mr Speaker.’ 

His remarks came after Mr Corbyn asked for evidence of details that the PM is negotiating for a deal and not trying to ‘run down the clock’.

After the PM withdrew the whip from 21 of his MPs who rebelled by backing a bid to stop a no-deal Brexit on October 31, Mr Corbyn said people would have a ‘great deal to fear’ if Mr Johnson does to the country what he has done to the Conservative Party in the last 24 hours.

The Prime Minister was then ticked off by Commons Speaker John Bercow for addressing Mr Corbyn by name, in a break with House traditions.

Mr Corbyn attacked the PM over his plans to prorogue Parliament, claiming Mr Johnson is ‘absolutely desperate to avoid scrutiny’.

In response, Mr Johnson threw up his arms and seemed to call out: ‘Call an election, you great big girl’s blouse.’

The Prime Minister traded slights with Jeremy Corbyn, who he called a ‘great big girl’s blouse’ and a ‘chlorinated chicken’

Mr Johnson said Mr Corbyn would not submit the ‘surrender Bill’ to the verdict of the people in an election, adding: ‘We think the friends of this country can be found in Paris, Berlin and in the White House, and he thinks they’re in the Kremlin, Tehran and in Caracas – and I think he is Caracas, Mr Speaker.’

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford claimed Mr Johnson was’behaving like a dictator more than a democrat’ as he called on the Prime Minister to ‘finally act to remove the threat of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit’.

Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, was among 21 Tory rebels who had the party whip withdrawn after backing a motion in the House of Commons on Tuesday aimed at blocking the UK from leaving the European Union with no deal. 

Referencing Margaret Thatcher, she asked Mr Johnson said: ‘A great lady, who you and I both revere, I am sure Mr Speaker, once said ‘advisers advise, ministers decide’.

‘Can I ask the Prime Minister to bear that statement closely in mind in relation to his own chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.’ 

A number of seasoned Westminster watchers were unimpressed by Mr Johnson’s first PMQs

Mr Johnson replied to Ms James: ‘As for the excellent question that my honourable friend asked, be in no doubt we are deciding on a policy to take this country forward.’ 

At the of PMQs, Mr Johnson got up to leave up to leave, but was reminded by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that Sajid Javid’s spending review would follow and he should remain in his seat.

His misfiring start to PMQs left many seasoned political commentators questioning whether he had provided a bounce back from former leader Theresa May’s often robotic style.

Sunday Times Political Editor Tim Shipman tweeted: ‘This is now one of the more remarkable PMQs I have seen. Real burning hatred for Johnson from the opposition benches. He looks unsettled. Attacks on racist remarks, Cummings and now his failure to apologise.’

A number of voters watching at home were also unimpressed by Boris’s performance

In a reference to the Ashes cricket starting today, he added: ‘Tory cricket fans will be hoping things go better at Old Trafford than they did for Bojo there.’

The Telegraph’s Whitehall Editor Owen Bennett added: ‘Boris Johnson struggling to find the right line and length here with his attacks on Corbyn. Looking flustered.’ 

Journalist Rupert Myers wrote: ‘Boris Johnson needs people to like him – it’s long been identified as a weakness of his. This is why he is floundering in the hostile environment of #PMQs – he doesn’t get the laughter and applause he’s used to from Tory Associations.

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