Former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd has blasted Boris Johnson for shirking his responsibilities at his weekly prime minister’s question time.
Speaking ahead of the 60th anniversary of the first formal PMQs, Baroness Boothroyd said Mr Johnson’s obfuscation amounted to contempt of parliament.
The former MP, who was Speaker from 1992 to 2000, also turned her fire on Conservative backbenchers, who she accused of asking soft “fluff” questions.
In an interview with Times Radio the nonagenarian elder stateswoman said PMQs had “deteriorated a great deal in the last few years”, adding: “It’s not the quality that it used to be”.
The baroness, who recently underwent open heart surgery, said the president Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle had “had to call the prime minister to account here to say look, it’s contempt of parliament – you’re not answering the question, not even attempting to answer the question”.
She added: “The prime minister is there to answer questions about what the government is doing, why it is not doing it.
“I don’t say prime ministers have got the answer to every question. Of course they haven’t. But at least they’ve got to have a stab and it and make an attempt and it is not [happening] these days.”
Sir Lindsay himself slammed Mr Johnson last year over his alleged contempt for parliament telling the prime minister the government had shown “total disregard” in its handling of Covid-19 regulations.
PMQs is held every Wednesday lunchtime when the Commons is sitting, barring special circumstances.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly been found to have made false statements at PMQs. In April he refused to apologise after wrongly claiming Keir Starmer had voted against the government’s EU trade deal.
In March he made a false claim about opposition MPs voting against a pay rise for nurses, leading the Speaker to brand him “dishonourable” for failing to correct his mistakes.