‘Get back to parliament’: Johnson speech interrupted by heckler

Written by Corby Radio News on 13th September 2019

Boris Johnson has been heckled about his controversial decision to suspend parliament during a speech in Rotherham.

The prime minister was speaking at a Convention of the North conference when he was interrupted by a man in the audience shouting.

Mr Johnson said: "I know the transformative potential of local accountable leadership, someone with the power to sort out what matters most to local people."

Interrupting the PM, a man shouted: "Like our MPs, Boris?"

"Yes, indeed," Mr Johnson replied.

The heckler continued: "Maybe get back to parliament. Yeah?

"Why are you not with them in parliament sorting out the mess that you have created? Why don’t you sort it out, Boris?"

Mr Johnson said: "I’m very happy to get back to parliament very soon, but what we want to see in this region is towns and communities able to represent that gentlemen and sort out his needs."

The man was then ejected from the venue by security.

The PM moved to suspend parliament last month, with MPs not due to return until 14 October.

Opposition MPs have accused the government of doing so to avoid scrutiny over Brexit, but Mr Johnson has consistently insisted that is not the case.

He repeated this after the heckler was ejected, telling the audience: "Whatever the shenanigans that may be going on at Westminster, we will get on with delivering our agenda and preparing to take this country out of the EU on 31 October," he said.

"There will be ample time for parliament to consider the deal that I very much hope to do at the EU summit on 17-18 October.

"There will be ample time, as the gentlemen I think… who left prematurely, not necessarily under his own steam, that is the answer to his question.

"To have a Queen’s Speech and set out our domestic agenda.

"I don’t think people realise we’ve missed about four days of parliamentary sitting time."

A Scottish court has ruled that the suspension of parliament was unlawful, with the government set to challenge that ruling in the Supreme Court next week.

Returning to the theme of his speech, Mr Johnson said mayors in the north of England should have more powers, including over railways.

"What is needed most of all is local leadership, trusting people to take back control and lead as they want to," he said.

"This is not about central government abdicating responsibility, but local leaders have a real power to change local issues."

On the railways, the PM admitted services in the north remained "patchy".

"If one policy is going to be devolved it must be transport," Mr Johnson told the audience.

"The north of England gave the world the railway in 1825, it was ours, a first, and yet two centuries later, in this the birth place of the railways, we can do so much better."

Answering questions after the speech, the PM said he was "cautiously optimistic" about negotiating a new deal with Brussels.

He will hold talks with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier on Monday.

Mr Johnson was also asked about the impending publication of former prime minister David Cameron’s memoirs.

The pair were seen as rivals for a number of years and campaigned on opposite sides during the 2016 EU referendum that prompted Mr Cameron to quit Downing Street.

Despite this, Mr Johnson said he was not concerned about what his predecessor would write about him.

"I want people to be clear, absolutely nothing that David Cameron says in his memoirs in the course of the next few days will diminish the affection and respect in which I hold him," the PM said.

"Not least for what he did in turning this country round after Labour left it bankrupt.

"I think he has a very distinguished record and a legacy to be proud of."

© Sky News 2019

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