Boris Johnson laughed at during PMQs after being told Tories 'no longer trust him'

It was a tough PMQs for Boris Johnson. Credit: Parliament

Boris Johnson has been laughed at during PMQs after claiming he could have passed his latest raft of coronavirus restrictions without Labour votes.

The prime minister was forced to depend on opposition MPs to get his Plan B proposals approved on Tuesday night after more than 100 of his own backbench MPs rejected the measures.

Mr Johnson said it was wrong to claim the government was relying on Labour votes, to which the Sir Keir Starmer hit back "he's so socially distanced from the truth, he thinks that that's not true" amid eruptions of laughter.

"Not even his own MPs trust him" Sir Keir said, adding that Mr Johnson is "taking the public for fools" by bringing in new restrictions amid numerous allegations that members of the government broke coronavirus rules during last winter's lockdown.

Taking on a statesman-like tone, the Labour leader told the PM he could rely on Labour to pass any restrictions necessary to protect the public, but said he could not blame Tory MPs for losing faith in the government.

Mr Starmer said Mr Johnson has "no hope of regaining moral authority" due to "weak leadership" over alleged rule-breaking last year, with many of those accused of lockdown breaches still in their jobs.

"His MPs don't believe him and nor do the British public," Sir Keir said, "he's taking the public for fools and it's becoming dangerous because from today anyone who tests positive for coronavirus faces a second Christmas in isolation. It'll be heart-breaking for families across the country. "

"Can the prime minister not see that he has no hope of regaining the moral authority to deliver that difficult message if he cannot be straight with the British public about the rule-breaking in Downing Street last Christmas?"

Mr Johnson said: "He comes to this House pompously claiming that he wants to rise above party politics and support the efforts of the nation in delivering the vaccine rollout, and then he talks endlessly about party politics and plays political games.

"I think what the people of this country can see, is that as a result of what this government has done with the decisions we've taken, the tough decisions we've taken - which he ducked - to deliver the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe and now the fastest booster rollout and we now have the fastest growing economy in the G7 and more jobs today - 500,000 more jobs today - than there were when the pandemic began."

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The PM also made his own accusations against Sir Keir, telling him there are "pictures of him quaffing beer".

He was referring to a story in the Sun newspaper from May this year which showed a photograph of Sir Keir drinking a bottle of beer in the run up to local elections.

He replied to the Labour leader's criticism over Tuesday night's Plan B Commons votes, saying: "We won that vote last night with Conservative votes.

"I respect the feelings, the anxieties colleagues have - of course I do - and legitimate anxieties that colleagues have about restrictions on their liberty and the liberty of people.

"But I believe the approach we're taking is balanced and proportionate and right for this country."

Mr Johnson went on to defend "tough" decisions he has taken as Prime Minister, including on the vaccine rollout.

He concluded: "They vacillate, we vaccinate. They jabber, we jab. They play party politics and we get on with the job."

After PMQs it was announced retired Court of Appeal judge and crossbench life peer Baroness Heather Hallett will chair the public inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic, which the PM ordered earlier this year.

The embattled prime minister has been in the trenches over coronavirus restrictions due to the allegations he broke his own Covid rules during last winter's lockdown.

But his contentious Plan B measures were approved, meaning large venues will require all customers to provide proof of their Covid status, either with an NHS vaccine pass or a negative test result, while health workers will need to double jabbed to remain in their jobs.

Pressure on the government over Covid rule-breaking, increased after ITV News released a leaked video showing Number 10 staff laughing about a Christmas party, was made significantly worse on Tuesday evening after the Daily Mirror published a photo showing top London Tory Shaun Bailey closely surrounded by staffers at a separate gathering last year.

Mr Bailey, formerly the Conservative candidate to be London mayor, quit as head of the London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee ahead of the publication of the photograph.

The prime minister has called an investigation into a number of alleged lockdown-breaching parties held last year, including one on December 18 last year in Number 10.

Police have so far refused to investigate the party, despite ITV News' video showing the senior Number 10 staff discussing the event which they say was "definitely not socially distanced".

But on Tuesday evening ITV News revealed an "alarm was accidentally set off" in Downing Street on the night of the party, leading to questions about why there has been no police investigation.

Sources inside Number 10 have confirmed that the alert was triggered around the same time as staff are said to have gathered to drink wine, eat cheese and receive jokey awards on December 18, 2020.

Neither the Metropolitan Police nor Downing Street denied the story, with both saying they would not comment on security measures - but ITV News has spoken to several sources who have provided the same account.

A government spokesperson said: "Given there is an ongoing review, it would be inappropriate to comment while that is ongoing. We do not discuss matters of security."

The Met Police said in a statement: "As a matter of course, we do not discuss specific details of protective security arrangements we provide at government buildings, as to do so could serve to undermine any such arrangements in place."