Watch: Labour MP ordered to leave Commons after calling Boris Johnson a liar
Sir Keir Starmer has backed a Labour MP who was ordered to leave the House of Commons for calling Boris Johnson a liar.
Dawn Butler told MPs on Thursday that the prime minister has “lied to the House and the country over and over again”.
Temporary deputy Speaker Judith Cummins then ordered Butler to leave after she refused to withdraw her remarks.
Calling another MP a liar is not considered within the boundaries of parliamentary etiquette.
After being reprimanded, Butler said: “It’s funny we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie rather than the person lying.”
Starmer said on Monday that he agreed with what Butler said, calling Johnson "the master of untruths and half-truths".
Asked about the incident on LBC, the Labour leader said: “I think the prime minister is the master of untruths and half-truths, and Dawn was simply giving some examples of that.
“I think there’s a lot of people that feel that, you know, it’s the person who’s not telling the truth rather than the person who’s calling it out that ought to be on the hotspot.
"So, I agree with Dawn on that."
However, Starmer also backed Cummins for "doing the right thing" and following parliamentary rules.
He said: “She followed the rules because Parliament doesn’t allow you to call other parliamentarians liars in the chamber, so I don’t criticise... the deputy Speaker for what she did, she was following the rules.
"But do I support Dawn in what she said? I absolutely do.”
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Butler, the MP for Brent Central, made the comments during a debate last week about the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The former Labour deputy leadership candidate accused Johnson of lying about the economy, investment in the NHS, and "severing" the link between COVID infections and serious disease and death.
Butler said: “It's dangerous to lie in the pandemic.
"I am disappointed the prime minister has not come to the House to correct the record and correct the fact that he has lied to this House and the country over and over again.”
Cummins quickly asked Butler to “reflect on her words and perhaps correct the record”.
She responded: “What would you rather: a weakened leg or a severed leg?
"At the end of the day the prime minister has lied to this House time and time again and it’s funny we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie rather than the person lying.”
Butler was again asked to withdraw her remarks but she refused, saying “I’ve reflected on my words and somebody needs to tell the truth in this House that the prime minister has lied.”
Cummins then ordered Butler to leave the Commons for the rest of the day under “standing order 43”.
Under parliamentary rules, this gives the Speaker power to “order any member or members whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day’s sitting”.
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