Dawn Butler uses “publicity stunt” to show how PM lies and gets away with it

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Dawn Butler has resorted to “populism” via a “cheap publicity stunt”, according to her political commentator critics. Addressing the House of Commons on its last day of activity before summer recess, the MP for Brent Central accused Boris Johnson of having “spent the last 18 months misleading this House and the country”. Citing a video by the CWU’s Peter Stefanovic with over 27 million views, she gave examples of the Prime Minister’s lies – on the growth figures, bursaries for student nurses, the Covid app and more. When she was asked to withdraw these remarks and refused, Butler was told to leave the chamber for the rest of the day.

It was, of course, a publicity stunt, i.e. a planned move to draw attention to a particular issue. In this case, to Johnson’s lies, to the failure of the political class to do anything about them, and to the absurdity of parliamentary rules that mean Butler is kicked out of the Commons while the Prime Minister can return again and again to spout more untruths. As the Labour backbencher said, “it’s funny that we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie rather than the person lying”. MPs are not allowed in general debates to accuse each other of lying, even when they are lying, and this rule is enforced, yet MPs are also encouraged to correct the record when they mislead the House and Johnson refuses to do so.

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