Labour MP gets applause after criticising Boris Johnson’s ‘derogatory and racist remarks’

Tory leader calls Jeremy Corbyn ‘big girl’s blouse’ during PMQs

Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has been applauded in the House of Commons after he condemned a column written by Boris Johnson in which he described some Muslim women as "letter boxes." Video: UK Parliament TV


British prime minister Boris Johnson called Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a “great big girl’s blouse” and Mr Johnson was described as a racist for his comments on Islamic dress as he faced a testing debut at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

The exchanges came just hours after MPs voted to seize control of the order paper, raising the likelihood of a delay to Brexit and prompting the PM to threaten a general election.

As the two leaders debated at the despatch box, Mr Corbyn attacked the PM over his plans to prorogue Parliament, claiming Mr Johnson is “absolutely desperate to avoid scrutiny”.

In response, Mr Johnson threw up his arms and seemed to call out: “Call an election, you great big girl’s blouse.”

Shortly afterwards, Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi stood to condemn Mr Johnson for his “derogatory and racist remarks” in a column for the Daily Telegraph, in which he described some Muslim women as “letter boxes”.

Mr Dhesi gestured around the Commons and asked: “Mr Speaker, if I decide to wear a turban, or you decide to wear a cross, or he decides to wear a kippah or a skull cap, or she decides to wear a hijab or burka, does that mean that it is open season for right honourable members of this House to make divisive and derogatory remarks about our appearance?

“For those of us who from a young age who have had to endure and face up to being called towel head or Taliban or coming from bongo-bongo land, we can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like ‘bank robbers’ and letter boxes’.”

After calling on the PM to apologise for the column, Mr Dhesi received a round of applause from many in the chamber.

Mr Johnson responded by saying his column had been a “strong, liberal defence... of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country”.

He added: “I speak as somebody who is not only proud to have Muslim ancestors but to be related to Sikhs such as himself.”

Elsewhere in an often ill-tempered spell in the chamber, Mr Johnson called Mr Corbyn a “chlorinated chicken” and swore as he claimed Labour’s economic policy was both “shit” and “bust”.

Neither comments were deemed unparliamentary by Commons Speaker John Bercow, though the PM was censured for referring to Mr Corbyn by name.

Mr Johnson said the choice for the country is whether they want a deal done by “this Government, or that Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.”

Mr Bercow said: “We don’t name people in the chamber — people must observe the rules.”

He added: “I am simply and politely informing the Prime Minister of the very long-established procedure with which everybody, including the Prime Minister, must comply.

“That is the position. No doubts, no argument, no contradiction. End of the matter.”

Mr Johnson later faces a vote on whether to force a delay of Brexit to prevent Britain leaving without a deal.

The PM has promised to call an election if he loses the vote, though Mr Corbyn said his party would not support this until the opposition’s proposals to stop no-deal were passed as law. - PA