PM's maiden Commons speech
Johnson and Blackford clash over No Deal plan for leaving Europe
Robust exchange: Mr Johnson and Mr Blackford in the Commons
Boris Johnson and the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford clashed over the new Prime Minister’s right to hold office and the impact of a No Deal Brexit.
In a furious exchange across the Chamber, Mr Blackford accused Mr Johnson of being “deluded” in his hopes of a New Deal with Europe, and said No Deal would be devastating for jobs.
As Mr Johnson delivered his maiden speech in parliament as Prime Minister, Mr Blackford said the SNP and parliament would stop the “madness” of taking Scotland and the UK out of Europe without a deal.
Welcoming him as “the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom”, Mr Blackford said Mr Johnson had been appointed by the same “undemocratic process” that he had himself described as a “gigantic fraud” when Gordon Brown was parachuted into Number 10.
Ian Blackford: parliament would ‘stop the madness’ of a No Deal
Demanding that Mr Johnson calls a General Election, he said the new PM had “no plan. He is full of bluster”.
Mr Johnson retorted that he would “take no criticism” from “a party whose leader, Nicola Sturgeon, replaced Alex Salmond, as far as I know, without a vote.” [Observers pointed out on Twitter that to take over as leader of the SNP requires a membership vote, though she did not seek an immediate mandate to be First Minister through a Scottish General Election].
He said Mr Blackford was “wrong in his analysis, defeatism and his pessimism about our wonderful United Kingdom which he seeks to break up.
Is it really their commitment to give back control of Scottish fisheries just after this country has taken back that fantastic resource?– Boris Johnson
“If we deliver a fantastic and sensible and progressive Brexit which I believe we can… what happens to the arguments of the Scottish National Party? Will they seriously continue to say that Scotland must join the euro? Will they seriously suggest that Scotland must submit to the entire panoply of EU law?
“Is it really their commitment to give back control of Scottish fisheries just after this country has taken back that fantastic resource?
“Might I respectfully suggest that is not the basis on how to seek election in Scotland. We will win on a manifesto of the whole UK.”
It later emerged that new Scottish Secretary Alister Jack would support No Deal, saying it would not be “seriously damaging” if the UK prepares for it properly.
He said there would be “some bumps along the way”, but said the UK could do “great things” after Brexit.
Mr Johnson reiterated his determination to deliver Brexit by the 31 October deadline, warning of a “catastrophic” loss of confidence in the UK’s democracy if they failed.
He insisted that he wanted to take Britain out of the EU with a deal. But he said Theresa May’s deal had been rejected three times by the House and could not be brought back again.
“I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal. I would much prefer it,” he said. “I believe that it is possible even at this late stage and I will work flat out to make it happen.”
He responded to questions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the prospect of American companies running the NHS, by saying that “under no circumstances” will he make the NHS part of any US trade deal.
He inherits a country that has been held back by nine years of austerity that has hit children and younger people hardest– Jeremy Corbyn
Mr Corbyn said Mr Johnson “inherits a country that has been held back by nine years of austerity that has hit children and younger people hardest. Their youth centres have closed, their school funding cut, college budgets slashed, and tuition fees trebled. Their housing costs are higher than ever, their jobs are lower paid. Opportunity and freedom have been taken away.”
Mr Johnson said he struggled to identify the country Mr Corbyn described.
He said wages are outperforming inflation, and the living wage, a Conservative policy he championed in London, has expanded the incomes of those who have received it. He noted that unemployment was at a 40-year low and foreign investment was up.