by George Biggs
After the British Supreme Court ruled that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, the abruptly halted session resumed yesterday. Tensions were high and silenced MPs unleashed their frustration at Johnson’s government.
Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury, was heckled and lauded by MPs for accusing the PM of inciting aggression and hatred against herself and her colleagues. Voice trembling, she argued that the language Johnson uses against his opponents (“surrender”, “betrayal” and “traitor”) are repeated in vicious death threats many MPs receive. Tracey Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen and the successor of Jo Cox, corroborated Sherriff and urged Johnson to “moderate his language”. Jo Cox was the MP who was tragically murdered in 2016 by a neo-fascist who considered her a “collaborator” and a “traitor”.
Johnson’s response to these comments evoked widespread outrage. He dismissed the remarks as “humbug” and claimed that “the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox… would be to get Brexit done”. He added that the constant delaying of Brexit is what is sowing “anxiety” and “ill-feeling” in the UK – despite the fact Jo Cox was murdered before the EU referendum happened.
Jo’s widower, Brendan Cox, wrote on Twitter that Johnson’s comments made him “sick”. Cox was a vocal remainer and many criticised the way she was invoked yesterday. Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, tweeted that the language of betrayal and surrender is perfectly justified.
Speaker John Bercow, upon the commencement of today’s session in the commons, stated “[yesterday] there was an atmosphere in the chamber worse than any I’ve known in my 22 years in the house. On both sides passions were inflamed, angry words were uttered. The culture was toxic.”
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