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Watch: Tory MP defends Harriet Harman


Boris Johnson might have shuffled off the parliamentary stage but there was still one last drama to play out last night. The House of Commons met to debate the ‘special report’ prepared by the Privileges Committee into the MPs who criticised their integrity when they probed the former Prime Minister. Amid the usual partisan taking points, Mr S was struck by a speech by one of the more thoughtful members of the 2019 intake, Laura Farris. With tears forming in her eyes, the Newbury MP spoke out in defence of the committee’s chairman Harriet Harman who was unanimously elected to the post in June 2022:

To contextualise the appointment of the Mother of the House, I want to say on her behalf that she had already announced her intention to retire from Parliament at the next election. Her parliamentary career has spanned five decades and has been defined, probably more so than that of any other person who has ever sat in this House, by her commitment to the advancement of women’s rights. Fourteen weeks before she took up that appointment, her husband of 40 years, Jack, had died. Against that background, I invite Members to consider what is more likely: that she agreed to chair the Committee as a final act of service to this House or that she did so because she was interested in pursuing a personal vendetta against Boris Johnson?

The appreciation of the House for this tribute was demonstrated by Penny Mordaunt’s conclusion of the debate: ‘We are at our best in this place… when turn up and step up to do what we think is right, even though there was no expectation that we would, as my honourable friend has done today.’

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

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