Steerpike

Watch: Boris attacked by Mark Harper

Watch: Boris attacked by Mark Harper
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'Après moi, le déluge.' Owen Paterson may be gone but Boris Johnson is still feeling his presence. This afternoon the Commons gathered for an emergency debate on the debacle of last week, with opposition MPs queuing up to (metaphorically) give the Prime Minister a damn good kicking. Within five minutes the first 'tinpot dictator' taunt had been hurled at the PM; within twenty he was accused of turning Parliament into the Duma of Tsarist Russia. For the absent PM, who is reportedly watching today's debate from a television in his office, it must have made for sobering stuff.

But while the opposition brickbats might sting, it will be the contributions from Johnson's own side that give him most pause for thought. And none will do so more than the intervention from Mark Harper, a former Tory chief whip, midway through the debate. As his squirming frontbench colleagues studiously sought to ignore Harper's eye. the Forest of Dean MP told fellow parliamentarians that Johnson should apologise, arguing 'that's the right thing to do in terms of demonstrating leadership.' Harper was by no means alone in his criticisms; Aaron Bell, one of the 13 Tories to rebel against last week's motion, excoriated the government and told the House that he and his colleagues had been put in an invidious position.

Given the looks of discomfort on the faces of Chief Whip Mark Spencer and Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, let's hope for their sake such scenes aren't repeated any time soon.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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