Boris Johnson has sparked anger in Britain after saying the best way to honour the memory of a murdered MP was to “get Brexit done”.
Jo Cox, an ardent remainer, was killed by a right-wing sympathiser just days before the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU.
“The best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox and, indeed, the best way to bring this country together would be, I think, to get Brexit done,” he said.
There were gasps in the House of Commons after the comment, which came after MPs had demanded Mr Johnson curb his “violent” and “dangerous” language.
Ms Cox’s husband Brendan said the comments made him “feel a bit sick”.
Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way. The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) September 25, 2019
Mr Johnson’s inflammatory remarks came on a wild day in Britain’s House of Commons as the PM addressed MPs a day after the Supreme Court had ruled his suspension of parliament was unlawful.
He hit out at the court for intervening in a political matter at a time of “great national controversy” over Brexit.
Mr Johnson accused parliament on Wednesday of being “paralysed” and claimed its members were “sabotaging” Brexit negotiations by seeking to thwart his commitment to taking Britain out of the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.
He dared opposition parties to push for a vote of no confidence or back a snap election to “finally face the day of reckoning with the voters”.
Mr Johnson was humiliated by Tuesday’s Supreme Court judgment, which overturned his advice to the Queen to suspend parliament until October 14.
The PM said it was “absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I thought the court was wrong” to pronounce on a “political question at a time of great national controversy”.
He claimed MPs were trying to prevent Brexit entirely.
“The people at home know that this parliament will keep delaying, it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want a deal,” he said.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 25, 2019
In response, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn repeated his call for Mr Johnson to quit.
“After yesterday’s ruling, the Prime Minister should have done the honourable thing and resigned,” he said.
Opposition parties will not back an election until they are sure that a no-deal Brexit is off the table.
They are suspicious that Mr Johnson will not comply with the terms of the Benn Act, which is aimed at delaying Brexit beyond October 31 if no agreement has been reached. On Wednesday, Mr Johnson repeatedly called it the “surrender act” – to the frustration of opposition MPs, who shouted “disgusting” every time he used the term.
A defiant Mr Johnson also taunted Mr Corbyn for his refusal to back an election.
“I think the people outside this House understand what is happening,” he said.
“Out of sheer selfishness and political cowardice they are unwilling to move aside and let the people have a say.
“The leader of the opposition and his party don’t trust the people.
“All that matters to them is an obsessive desire to overturn the referendum result.”
Mr Johnson threw down the gauntlet to the opposition parties, saying the parliament must “let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters”.
Mr Corbyn dismissed Mr Johnson’s words as “bluster from a dangerous prime minister who thinks he is above the law”.
“In truth, he is not fit for the office that he holds,” the Labour leader said.