Ian Blackford labels Boris Johnson a ‘liar’ in the Commons
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The SNP Westminster leader claimed that Mr Johnson was breaking convention by refusing to appear in Parliament after his trip to India. The same session also saw the PM accused of not raising “grave human rights abuses” during his trip to India. Mr Blackford said: “There is a clear convention that prime ministers have a duty to update this House following their attendance at major summits or following significant visits.
“This convention has been respected and followed by all Prime Ministers in recent years, but like on so many other matters, the only exception to that rule is the current Prime Minister.
“Following his visit last week, the Prime Minister should have come to this House and given an update, he has once again failed to do so. Instead he chose to go campaigning for his party in the local elections, though I suspect that won’t do them much good.
“This Prime Minister failing to come before this House is by no means a on- off. He has failed to come before the House after the extraordinary Nato summit in March. There is a very clear pattern here.
“This is a Prime Minister who has no respect for the office he occupies and even less respect for this House.”
As Mr Johnson, somewhat appropriately, was absent from the discussion, Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford was tasked with responding to the accusations.
She was met with heckles of “where is he” as she approached the despatch box, to which she responded: “I thought we treated women with respect in this place”.
Ms Ford added: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the importance of greater and deeper partnerships between democracies. This visit enhanced our objectives on green growth, security and defence, as well (as) trade.”
Mr Johnson also was hit with a barrage of criticism for an alleged disregard for human rights when it came to the trade deal with India.
Labour MP Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) criticised the PM for visiting a JCB factory the day after reports its vehicles were used to “destroy and demolish Muslim homes and businesses in Delhi”, describing the visit as a “mistake”.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr) told MPs: “India is a human rights abuser across all of its country: for the Sikh Community, for the Muslim community, for the Christian community and particularly more strongly for the Kashmiri community.
“When she talks about signing an agreement coming up to Diwali, they will be dancing on the human rights and civil liberties of all those people who have been persecuted in India, and will she accept that is not acceptable to us as a democracy?”
Ms Ford replied: “We do not pursue trade at the exclusion of human rights.
“We regard both as an important part of a deep, mature and wide-ranging relationship with our partners.”
She said both countries wanted to conclude the “majority” of the talks on the “comprehensive and balanced” agreement “by the end of October”.
She added: “We condemn any instance of discrimination because of freedom of religion or belief.
“Protecting freedom of religion or belief is one of the absolutely top human rights priorities for this country.”
Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds claimed the trip was a wasted change to challenge India over its neutral stance on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said: “Instead we have a Prime Minister whose moral authority is so sullied, whose political authority is so weak, he did not challenge India to change its official stance of neutrality on the appalling illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“India has a right to remain neutral but why would a UK prime minister waste such an opportunity to at least try and convince our Indian friends to join us in standing up to (Vladimir) Putin’s aggression?
“It sends a worrying message that our prime Minister lacks both the ambition and the ability to effectively used Britain’s diplomatic clout to influence others.”
Ms Ford replied: “The British Prime Minister and prime minister (Narendra) Modi released a statement immediately after that meeting unequivocally condemning civilian deaths, reiterating the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and for peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“He might like to take a look at that.”
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