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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 January 2021

Boris Johnson defends his use of language in parliament

The Prime Minister condemned threats to MPs as Brexit tensions swirl

Boris Johnson has been accused of using inflammatory language. Getty
Boris Johnson has been accused of using inflammatory language. Getty

Boris Johnson has rejected accusations he uses inflammatory language to describe anti-Brexit MPs, many of whom have been threatened amid heightened tensions in the UK parliament.

The Prime Minister, who said he deplored threats against MPs, previously described a law enacted to block a no-deal divorce from the European Union as a “surrender” bill.

He has been urged in parliament to tone down his language with some reminding Mr Johnson of Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered in 2016 by a man with far-right views.

“I think the threats against MPs and particularly female MPs are absolutely appalling and we’re doing a lot of work to give MPs the security that they need,” he said on Friday.

“But then there’s another question which is - can you use words like ‘surrender’ to describe a certain act or a certain bill?

“And quite frankly I think that you can and if you say that you can’t then you’re kind of impoverishing the language and impoverishing political debate because, after all, the use of that kind of metaphor has been going on for hundreds of years," Mr Johnson told Sky News.

The “heat” and “anxiety” stemming from the Brexit debate would subside once the UK leaves the EU, Mr Johnson claimed.

More than 100 bishops from the Church of England issued a joint statement condemning the recent language over Brexit.

"In the last few days, the use of language, both in debates and outside parliament, has been unacceptable.

"We should speak to others with respect. And we should also listen,” the statement said.

Earlier this week the UK Supreme Court ruled Mr Johnson had unlawfully suspended parliament for five weeks until mid-October.

On Thursday, Mr Johnson’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings said it was “not surprising” some members of the public were angry that Brexit had not happened yet.

The UK is set to leave the EU on October 31. Many MPs have sought to block a no-deal Brexit, should a fresh divorce deal not be agree with Brussels, which critics fear will send the UK plunging into a recession.

This week a number of anti-no-deal Brexit of MPs have said they have been threatened.

Jo Swinson, leader of the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats, said on Thursday she had reported to the police a threat to her child’s life.

Updated: September 27, 2019 06:13 PM

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