Attack on privileges committee a “further contempt of Parliament” says Hilary Benn

Image above: Susannah Simons and Hilary Benn MP

“His behaviour has been positively Trumpian”

Hilary Benn MP packed out St Michael & All Angels Church on Thursday, when he was interviewed by Susannah Simons as part of the Bedford Park Festival. The interview covered a range of topics, including Brexit, international aid and Boris Johnson.

After the event, which took place on the day that the House of Commons privileges committee released their report on Boris Johnson’s conduct over ‘partygate’, the former Cabinet minister spoke to The Chiswick Calendar.

Mr Benn described the report as “pretty damning” and said that the committee “looked at all the evidence and the verdict is very, very clear, which is why Boris Johnson jumped before he was pushed.

“The thing that worries me most is the way in which he and some of his supporters have reacted to it: attacking the members of the committee, the process and calling it into question. Which is, in my view, a further contempt of Parliament and is very damaging for our democracy. His behaviour has been positively Trumpian”.

“I’m not sure that Boris Johnson is wandering off into the sunset”

Hilary Benn MP told The Chiswick Calendar he thought:

“what it demonstrates to the British people is that the Conservative Party continues to be convulsed by a blazing row over one thing and then another. And the lesson from history is that parties that are consumed in their own internal arguments and vicious in-fighting do not impress the voters because they think: ‘well they’re not interested in me so let’s look for someone who is’.”

On Johnson’s future role in politics, Mr Benn warned:

“although he’s left Parliament I’m not sure that Boris Johnson is wandering off into the sunset”.

“It’s quite a soap opera” in Scotland too

When asked about Nicola Sturgeon’s arrest the previous weekend, Mr Benn said:

“Well I think the SNP is in some difficulty, to put it mildly, in Scotland at the moment.”

He continued that the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar, “is doing a jolly good job and so we have hopes of winning a number of seats at the general election in Scotland.

“And that’s really important because the SNP has always thought their best hope of winning independence is if there’s a really, really unpopular Tory government in London.

“And once people in Scotland see that it’s possible for that not to be the case and there could be a Labour government in Westminster, then it may change some of the dynamics. 

“We fight to win seats in all parts of the country, but it’s quite a soap opera there too.

“We’re making steady progress, but we have such a mountain to climb in terms of winning the next election, but we’re working as hard as we can to do that. In the end the good voters will decide.”

Hilary Benn is the MP for Leeds Central, but has his London house in Chiswick.

Find out about the Bedford Park Festival on their website: bedfordparkfestival.org